As the Centre launched its medical cover scheme Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana — to provide better healthcare and treatment to all underprivileged sections of society, including SC/ST families, political spotlight moved to UP where BJP seeks to consolidate crucial Dalit and OBC votes as it gears up to take on a united opposition in 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Centre will implement Ayushman Bharat on the basis of socio-economic caste census (SECC) 2011 which had identified 62 lakh SC households in UP, comprising nearly 23% of the state’s total population.
UP health minister Siddharth Nath Singh told TOI that SECC will be the key basis for roll out of Ayushman Bharat benefits. In the first phase, around 1.1 crore families in UP are proposed to be covered under the scheme.
PM Narendra Modi launched the scheme in Jharkhand on Sunday. In UP, Union home minister Rajnath Singh, who is Lucknow MP, flagged off the scheme in the state capital while chief minister Yogi Adityanath presided over the launch in Gorakhpur.
As per SECC data, UP has over 2.6 crore rural households, of which nearly 62 lakh are of Dalits.
It further categorises 72% of total SC households as ‘socially deprived’ with nearly 20% of them having a monthly income of less than Rs 5,000. The data also reveals that nearly 1lakh Dalit families in UP live in a one-room Kuchcha house — highlighting the poor socio-economic condition of Dalits in the country’s most populous state.
“Every poor and deprived family of Dalit community would benefit from the scheme,” Singh said, while speaking to TOI.
Political experts see the move as another BJP bid woo Dalits as SP and BSP are planning to consolidate SC votes before general elections.
Earlier, Centre had decided to give preference to Dalit and Muslim families in allotment of houses under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana. It had also asked UP government to allot at least 60% of PMAY houses in rural areas to poor SC and Muslim families. Centre had also decided to give preference to Dalit and OBC families in Ujjwala scheme, providing free gas connections to rural households. The scheme played a key role in BJP’s emphatic win in 2017 UP assembly elections. Till date, around 70 lakh families in UP have got gas connection under Ujjwala.