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Model code of conduct ends Gujarat sop spree

Through a network of around 40,000 workers, Gujarat implements the National Rural Health Mission in the state

Sohini Das & Vinay Umarji  |  Ahmedabad 

A K Joti
Chief Election Commissioner A K Joti during the announcement of the schedule for the Gujarat Assembly elections, in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo: PTI

It has been raining freebies in poll-bound

Since election dates for were announced, the has been on an overdrive to make last-minute announcements (mostly for employees) to appease voters before the state goes to elections. would have Assembly elections on December 9 and 14, said the Election Commission on Wednesday. Results would be announced on December 18.

The had alleged that was delaying announcing election dates to that it can announce sops till the last minute to woo voters. The Model Code of Conduct kicked in on Tuesday, ending the use machinery or announcements to influence voters.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has visited the state three times during the month, President extended his stay here after Diwali (he was here to celebrate the festival with family), and Vice-President has been frequenting poll-bound

The state has announced sops worth Rs 11,000 crore in the last few weeks. Around four major schemes have been announced in the past 24 hours, including a 50 per cent pay increase for accredited social health activists (ASHA) workers. Currently, these workers get Rs 2,500 a month. 

Through a network of around 40,000 workers, implements the National Rural Health Mission in the state. These workers have been up in arms against the for some time and had also met earlier this month demanding equal rights, pay and social security benefits. 

On Tuesday, the state announced that the 18 per cent goods and services tax (GST) on purchase of drip irrigation equipment would be waived. This would cost the state exchequer around Rs 78 crore a year. 

Political analysts said this was BJP's last-ditch effort to build bridges with the farming community. Patidar farmers have been unhappy with the state policies for long. The also raised the annual income ceiling for beneficiaries from socially backward classes from Rs 47,000 to Rs 1.2 lakh (for rural) and up to Rs 1.5 lakh (for urban areas). The state also extended paid maternity leaves, increased compensation to kin in case of death of a contractual employee and increased daily allowance for contractual employees on tour.

Poll benefits
  • Groundnut MSP of Rs 900 for 20 kg against current market price of Rs 750-800
  • PM lays foundation stone for Rs 4,337-crore Bhadbhut Barrage project 
  • Antyodaya Express to connect Surat and Bihar's Jaynagar
  • Interest-free agriculture loan of up to Rs 3 lakh to farmers; to benefit 2.5 million farmers 
  • Rs 100 bonus on 20 kg of cotton over and above the MSP 
  • Rs 615-crore passenger service opened from Ghogha to Dahej
  • Pay revision for fixed salaried workers 
  • Hike in salaries of teachers and municipality staff
  • Diwali bonus for Class-IV employees
  • 1% hike in dearness allowance for 820,000 employees

First Published: Thu, October 26 2017. 02:27 IST