The slew of announcements made by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot for various sections of society in the 2012-13 State Budget presented here on Monday depicted the disquiet in the ruling Congress over the recent Assembly election results in several States, including neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, and anxiety for the Assembly polls due next year in Rajasthan.

Mr. Gehlot devoted a major portion of his two-and-a-half-hour Budget speech to announcing new schemes and welfare measures, establishment of new institutions, allocation of new funds and enhancement of existing subsidies, investments and assistance for different sectors.

With an eye on the 2013 Assembly elections, Mr. Gehlot sought to dispel the notion that his government is neglecting any section of population and tried to give a populist twist to the Budget by addressing the concerns of key electoral constituencies such as Dalits, farmers, minorities, youths and government employees.

However, the Chief Minister told reporters after his Budget speech that schemes such as computer-aided learning programme and distribution of free laptop computers to students holding merit positions and topping various exams had “nothing to do with [Assembly] elections”.

Reminded about similar decisions taken by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, Mr. Gehlot said the Samajwadi Party might have made certain promises in its manifesto which the young CM must be fulfilling after assuming office: “In Rajasthan, we are not working on any kind of poll agenda. My government is guided by the developmental needs of common people.”

Among the new schemes proposed to be launched in the next financial year, the most significant are the Nirashrit Sambal Yojana for the destitute people, Chief Minister's Urban BPL Housing Scheme, Chief Minister's Rural Employment Scheme for initiating self-employment ventures in villages and Dhan Lakshmi Mahila Samriddhi Kendra for training to women's self-help groups.

The Chief Minister said he had decided to extend the housing benefits to Below Poverty Line families in cities after the success of a similar scheme for the rural BPL families. Assistance worth Rs.50,000 each would be provided to 1 lakh BPL families after obtaining Rs.500 crore as loan every year from different institutions. The Nirashrit Sambal Yojana with an initial allocation of Rs.5 crore will provide social security to those who have no family support.

Mr. Gehlot also announced an unemployment allowance for graduate youths belonging to families with an annual income up to Rs.1 lakh. These youths will get unemployment allowance of Rs.500 per month for a maximum period of two years, while the differently-abled unemployed youth would get Rs.600 per month

He said the State would produce 1,860 MW power in the public sector and 540 MW in the private sector during 2012-13, while Rs.106 crore would be spent on strengthening drinking water supply system in the cities. Another Rs.300 crore has been sanctioned for the Chief Minister's free medicine supply scheme in the government hospitals.

To improve the financial condition of the Waqf Board, the State Government has decided to pay to it “rationalised rent” for the government offices functioning at the Waqf properties. Mr. Gehlot announced the establishment of Rajiv Gandhi Tribal University in Udaipur at a cost Rs.20 crore for undertaking studies and research on tribal culture and development.

In a major relief to farmers, Mr. Gehlot announced that the State Government would pay subsidy to cover the interest amount for crop loans up to Rs.1 lakh obtained by them. Medicines for the cattle would be supplied free of cost at veterinary hospitals with an initial financial provision of Rs.60 crore.

He said new universities would be established at Alwar, Bharatpur and Sikar at land measuring 10 acres each to be provided free of cost. A journalism and mass communication university will also be established in Jaipur at a cost of Rs.10 crore.

In addition to the national manufacturing and investment zones to be established at Bhiwadi and Pali along the Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor coming up in the State, a Mines and Minerals Security Force with a battalion of 1,000 jawans will be appointed to check illegal mining in different parts of Rajasthan.

  • Free laptop computers for meritorious students

  • New housing scheme for urban BPL families