So..Akhilesh Yadav has finally got the potion that will get him his opponents’ sleep – that will fetch him finally the stick to wield power over his rivals in the upcoming electoral battle in Uttar Pradesh where the incumbent assembly under him is completing its term in March 2017.
It will be a healing touch that, in one go, will transcend beyond all ‘ifs and buts’ and will transform the lives of all state residents, especially the downtrodden one that form the majority of the state, something that Akhilesh Yadav has been trying ever since he was inaugurated in the Lucknow secretariat.
He is justified in half-launching it. While the preparatory ground work is going to be laid out right at the moment, the real implementation phase to reach out to the intended beneficiaries will began only after the next assembly polls – conditioned to the conditionality that Akhilesh returns to the office.
And what’s wrong in that. After all, this one and, in fact, every political step that he takes to ensure his victory – over the rival factions inside his party – and over the political opposition – should be seen in this context only.
He began his term with a digital initiative – distributing free laptops. To give it his party’s socialist emblem, he christened it as ‘Samajwadi laptop’ and then rechristened with a Samajwadi home page. That was a milestone in introducing digital literacy in India and was a logical extension of the utterly illogical freebie culture in our elections – especially in the state elections – where from televisions sets, to cable connections, to mixer-grinders, to sarees, and to what not is on free fall.
So when Akhilesh Yadav, while announcing the scheme, claimed that he launched a comprehensive digital connect initiative much before Narendra Modi’s Digital India imprint, he has a point to make. If he is looking for some credit here that he should ideally be given.
And we hope this free smartphones scheme will go much beyond the numerical extent of the free laptops initiative. After all, it has the inherent cost advantage that could have been a factor with laptops in taking it to a wider base. If we talk about even the cheaper range of laptops, in the range of Rs. 40,000, we can have some 8 good smartphones in the price of one laptop. And a proper negotiation based on volume and scale can take this to 10 handsets.
Now, as per Akhilesh, the SP government under him has distributed around 18 lakh laptops in the state. If we take a direct corollary, that comes to be around 1.8 crore smartphones. Uttar Pradesh’s population is around 20 crore, out of which, around 12 crore are in the 15-59 age group (59.5%).
The scheme Akhilesh announced yesterday is for over 18 years of age and is basically for have-nots, having a family income below Rs. 2 Lakh a year. Also it not for the government sector employees. Anyway, no government salary bracket is in that lower range. So, there may be a bit of redundancy here. But that is ok. We must go by the larger canvas.
And the larger canvas is – Akhilesh wants to take his digital initiative to the next logical level – from a shared mode of communication (from laptops that is generally used by all users in a family) – to a personal channel – mobiles/smartphones – with individual users.
It is the logical next step of empowerment and we believe Akhilesh will try to cover the whole base here, so we can expect that even if the intended population segment represents some 8 crore members, Akhilesh will try to reach all of them.
And like said in the above lines, Akhilesh has all the rights to strengthen and perpetuate his legacy and for it, he needs more than one five-year term. So when he expects that people give him another chance and he links his aspirations with his next flagship initiative of free smartphones, like free laptops were during his first term, there is nothing wrong in it.