Hyderabad: Just days before its formal launch at Shalapalli in the Huzurabad Assembly constituency, the Telangana Dalit Bandhu scheme is stirring up a political storm in the State.
The scheme, which was launched on an experimental basis at Vasalamarri in Yadadri-Bhongir district, is being extended to the Huzurabad constituency where it will be formally launched by Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao on Monday. The pilot project of the scheme will be implemented on a saturation mode in Huzurabad before being extended to other constituencies in the State.
Aimed at providing financial assistance to identified Dalit families and promote entrepreneurship among them, Dalit Bandhu raised the political temperature in the State. The scheme took the centre stage with the Opposition parties, especially the BJP, trying to give it a political spin and create utter confusion among the beneficiaries. The BJP has dubbed the scheme a poll stunt and questioned the government’s commitment towards Dalit empowerment, demanding the implementation of the scheme in all constituencies that would benefit nearly 12 lakh out of 17 lakh Dalit families in the State.
The opposition’s criticism elicited a spirited response from the ruling party with Finance Minister T Harish Rao defending the government’s decision to implement the scheme on a pilot basis in Huzurabad. Reiterating the government’s commitment to implement the scheme, he had clarified that it was not a hasty move as the government had already made a budgetory allocation of Rs 1,000 crore with a provision to increase the funding. “Rather than appreciating the State government for its initiative, BJP leaders are casting aspersions on the State government over the implementation of the scheme, though we have allocated funds in the State Budget this year,” he remarked.
Responding to the demand for increasing the financial incentive from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 50 lakh per family, Harish challenged the BJP leadership to get the remaining Rs 40 lakh sanctioned from the Centre for implementing the scheme across the State at one go.
In a separate news conference, Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar too allayed the fears of the beneficiaries reiterating that the scheme would be extended to all eligible families on a saturation mode across the State in a phased manner. The government is taking all measures to implement the scheme transparently by setting up a system to constantly monitor the progress of each beneficiary and handhold them to ensure their success.
Despite the political opposition to the scheme, the Dalit communities and intellectuals welcomed the government’s move to implement the scheme on a saturation basis. Apart from announcing their support to the government openly, many Dalit organisations are performing ‘Ksheerabhishekam’ to the portraits of the Chief Minister. Dalit Bandhu is being hailed as a novel scheme that is unheard of in the country’s history.