Online registration for the scheme already open
Scheme to come in effect if the ruling party wins elections
Eligibility criteria for scheme mentioned on website
Politicians in India can often be seen making lucrative announcements ahead of elections in order to lure people into voting for their respective parties. These announcements can often result in fruits for the general public. In one such interesting announcement, Akhilesh Yadav-led Uttar Pradesh government had last month announced the ‘Samajwadi Smartphone Yojna’ to distribute free smartphones among the general public. More details have now become available, and online registrations have begun.
Interestingly, this smartphone distribution – scheduled to happen in the second half of 2017 – will only take place if current Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party is able to win in the Vidhan Sabha elections, which will be held in 2017. The online registration for this scheme has started from Monday and will continue for a month till November 10. In order to be eligible for receiving the smartphone, applicants must be 18 years or older and should have a minimum educational qualification of matriculation (having passed Class 10). State government employees, as well as applicants whose parents work in the state government, will not be eligible for the scheme.
Users can now apply online on the dedicated site, however, various pages on the site appear to have trouble loading, and, we were unable to progress very far through the registration process. Some pages, like the FAQ section, opened initially then failed to open later. The site itself appears to be down for some.
To apply for the scheme, applicants are required to submit documents that prove their age to be at least 18 years as on January 1, 2017. This has clearly been done to ensure that only eligible voters are able to take part in the scheme. The applicants are further required to submit documents to prove that their annual family income is less than Rs. 6 lakhs. Importantly, the applicant is required to be a citizen of Uttar Pradesh. Applicants are also required to submit a phone number, either their own or one of their family member’s.
The Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister had last month announced the smartphone will come with a ‘detailed unified application’ with audio, video and textual information about the state government. The app would also have features for rural people, frames about latest rates of agro products, details of best practices and weather related data as well. Similar information would be available for milk producers, along with job and vacancy information, reading material for students, entrance and results, loan and other financial assistance details for small-time businessmen.
In the meanwhile, the Allahabad High Court on Friday dismissed a PIL challenging the political party’s smartphone distribution scheme. The court said that the petitioner failed to place any such provision that prevents political parties from making such declarations ahead of elections.
In an expected reaction, the scheme has already received criticism from many who are claiming that it amounts to “legal bribery” for votes.
The Akhilesh Yadav-led party had previously announced the distribution of laptops for free under ‘Free Laptop Yojna’ to select students from class 12 and 10 across the state.
Even though such a move might not be considered ethical by many, it will be interesting to see if voters do take up the scheme with open hands.