Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Thursday announced that his government’s much anticipated Universal Health Scheme (UHS) will be launched on May 1 this year.
In his reply to the budget debate in the Assembly, Gehlot said that it will be named Mukhyamantri Chiranjeevi Yojana. In his budget speech on February 24, Gehlot had announced UHS with Rs 3,500 crore in the upcoming financial year wherein cashless health services up to Rs 5 lakh will be provided to all families in the state. Gehlot said that registration for those not included in the National Food Security Act (NFSA)/Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC) beneficiary list will begin from April 1.
In another important announcement, Gehlot increased the MLA Local Area Development (MLA LAD) fund from Rs 2.25 crore to Rs 5 crore annually, following demand by both Congress and Opposition MLAs. The announcement was welcomed by MLAs across party lines by tapping their tables. The CM, however, did not state when will this be implemented.
Earlier, at the beginning of his speech and in a reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi paying tributes to Mahatma Gandhi recently, Gehlot said, “It is a good opportunity for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to talk to (RSS chief) Mohan Bhagwat and make such an environment — forget what happened in six years — there should be a new beginning in the country with harmony, love, brotherhood.”
Gehlot then attacked Leader of Opposition Gulab Chand Kataria, who had spoken just before the CM, for “misleading” the House. “The way you speak, it sounds as if you only speak the truth, and nothing but the truth. But it isn’t so. You know how to speak lies in a way that it sounds truthful. And I have told you, in private too, don’t get angry. While speaking well and using such good words, you suddenly shift to ‘tu, ta’. It is a topic of research what emotion takes over you. Come to my office or residence, I will clear all your doubts, but don’t mislead the House,” Gehlot said.
He said that the Opposition misled and “stole the headlines in newspapers, (you said) that in 2.5 years, 1.8 lakh jobs were announced but only 13,000 were given employment.”
“So far, we have given appointments in 97,000 jobs, while exams have been held/results declared for about 17,000 jobs and they will be given appointments soon. For another 37,000 posts, the advertisements have been issued and the exams will be conducted soon. For another 23,000, the process to issue advertisements is underway. This way, we are in the process of providing over 1.7 lakh jobs in just 2-2.25 years, and despite coronavirus,” the CM said.
He claimed that when the Centre is now receiving “the same revenue as 2019-20, then it is beyond understanding why you are decreasing the state’s share. Rajasthan’s share has decreased by 17 per cent. In 2019-20 we received Rs 10,000 crore less, Rs 14,000 crore less in 2020-21, and for 2021-22, we have already been told that we will receive Rs 12,000 crore less: this totals to Rs 36,000 crore,” Gehlot said.
“The PM talks of cooperative federalism, but only talks about and doesn’t bring it in practice. The circumstances in the country are worrying,” Gehlot said.
While he did not speak on the phone tapping issue, Gehlot said one should “talk on WhatsApp or FaceTime, else your phones may be tapped.” Referring to the debate on phone tapping, he joked, “yesterday, all your phones were tapped.”
With Kataria focusing on the state’s financial health, Gehlot said that whenever BJP is in power, its financial management is “bakwaas (rubbish). You may have vision but no financial management…In the House, we should talk where the parameters are headed, and criticism within that is justified.”
“In the last 10-12 years, there has been Revenue Surplus thrice, and every time it was during our tenure: 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13. And in your time, there was a Revenue Deficit of Rs 3,215 crore, then Rs 15,954 crore in 2015-16, Rs 18,114 crore in 2016-17, Rs 18,534 crore in 2017-18 and Rs 28,900 crore in 2018-19,” he said. He said that the state’s Debt-to-GDP ratio was 36.38 per cent when he assumed power in 2008-09, “We reduced it to 23.58 per cent when we handed over the government to you (in 2013-14). But you again took it to 33.78 per cent. Now it is continuously increasing in our tenure due to the factors I listed – Centre’s devolution, GST, and the debts you gave to us when we assumed charge.” He said that similarly, Fiscal Deficit has been high under BJP.
“In your time, Fiscal Deficit has always gone above 3 per cent: 3.09, 9.25, 6.09, 3.06 and 3.74 while, with us, it was 3.87 when we took charge from you, then 1.22, 0.83, 1.73 and 2.76.”
He said, “These are the parameters which tell financial discipline,” and said that the state’s figures have been better than the Centre’s.
Among other announcements, the CM announced a Back-to-Work scheme where 15,000 women will be covered in the next three years. Under the scheme, efforts will be made via the private sector to provide work from home job opportunities to trained women professionals and working women who left work to take care of family after marriage.