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Akhilesh announces free smartphones, but will be delivered after UP polls

Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has announced free distribution of smartphones from latter half of the year, a move that replicates Samajwadi Party's experiment of promising free laptops to students ahead of 2012 polls.

Government employees and their wards however, will not be eligible for this scheme."The government has decided to start Samajwadi Smartphone scheme to help a two-way communication between the government and people and also take direct feedback on the various schemes of the government," an official release quoting the Chief Minister said.

"The distribution of smartphone will start in the second half of 2017 on the basis of first come/registration, first serve basis," it said.

In 2012 elections, the Samajwadi Party had secured complete majority and one of its main poll promises was distributing free laptops to students."The phone will have a detailed app through which all information about the state government using audio-visual and text will be provided to people," the release said, adding beneficiaries will be selected in a totally transparent manner.

"Selecting the beneficiaries online, the smart phone will directly reach them to avoid any corruption. The registration for the same will start in a month's time. Those having passed High school and completed 18 years of age on January 1, 2017, provided their family income is less than Rs 2 lakh rupees a year, will be able to apply," it said.

Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh are slated to be held early next year. Akhilesh recalled that his government had successfully distributed about 18 lakh free laptops in a transparent manner and similarly, the smart phones to be distributed under the scheme will be of good quality and the process will be corruption-free.

"Through the distribution of laptops, the SP government helped bring digital democracy in the real sense," he said adding, 21st century is the century of possibilities and his government is committed to encourage information technology to help all sections of society get equal opportunities.

"The mobile phone will also have an app for providing information beneficial for farmers, villagers, unemployed, students and government schemes meant for small traders," the release said.

At a function recently, Akhilesh had hinted at bringing such a scheme by saying"Samajwadis will think of something which we can give to next generation or something through which they can get more information about the government and share their expectations. The cities are becoming smart and through mobile applications people are getting information.

"We have fulfilled our promise (made in 2012 assembly manifesto) of providing free laptops to students. In the days to come, it is possible that for the poor, government might decide to give some facilities. If we have to give mobile to common man, we Samajwadis will also think in this regard and might include it in our manifesto," he had said.

Meanwhile Opposition BJP and Congress slammed Akhilesh for"befooling" people with the"election promise" of distributing smartphones and asked them to remain vigilant of such"allurements."

"SP will not be able to regain power with this election promise.. youth wants employment, proper law and order, good governance, better infrastructure and education ...they will not fall into the trap of smartphones as they have already made up their minds to uproot this government which is ridden with ills," state BJP president Keshav Prasad Maurya said in a statement.

Terming the scheme as"allurement" before the Assembly elections, Congress flayed political parties who are in the habit of making such"fake promises."

Recalling the promise of giving free laptops before the 2012 elections, chairman of Congress' communications department, Satyadev Tripathi said not everyone was given a laptop.

He also said the promises of giving unemployment allowance to jobless youths and free food for drought-hit Bundelkhand region were"dumped and forgotten.""Akhilesh Yadav now appears to be following the footsteps of Prime Minster Narendra Modi who came to power in 2014 on the promise of 'acchey din' and people need to remain vigilant and teach them a lesson in 2017," Tripathi said.


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