Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje has decided to continue the free medicine scheme, one of the key flagship schemes of the Ashok Gehlot Government that she had attacked during her pre-poll public meetings.
However, Ms. Raje has also set up a high-level panel to “look into all aspects of the free medicine and free diagnosis schemes” and “take them forward more efficiently”.
The “chief minister’s free medicine scheme” was one of the popular schemes of the Congress Government but was much debated in the run-up to the Assembly elections.
It all started on October 10 when at a meeting of the BJP’s medical cell, Ms. Raje slammed the flagship scheme, accusing the Congress Government of distributing “poison” in the name of free medicines.
At a public meeting in Kota on November 23, AICC president Sonia Gandhi attacked the BJP over the issue, calling it a party of “poisonous people” which was spreading rumours about a popular government scheme.
The following day BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi took it up a notch during his speech in Banswara.
“Madam said BJP leaders are poisonous...why does she think of poison every time she comes to Rajasthan? Some time ago when she had come to Jaipur, her shehzada said in a speech that mummy said power is poison... brothers and sisters...who has stayed in power the longest?” said Mr. Modi.
Four days later, on November 28, the Congress complained about the matter to the Election Commission.
Several social activists from Rajasthan had urged Ms. Raje not scrap the scheme.
They vouched for it and asked her to instead make it better if the BJP returned to power in the State. On this past Thursday, the chief minister seems to have heeded to their call.
In her directives to the health department for implementation of a 60-day working plan to bring about qualitative changes in the State’s health care system, Ms. Raje included instructions to set up a committee under the Additional Chief Secretary to remove any shortcomings from the two schemes and improve their implementation.