Hyderabad: A lot is riding on Telangana chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) ambitious Dalit Bandhu scheme, that promises all eligible members of the Scheduled Caste (SC) community Rs. 10 lakh as financial assistance from the state. While KCR announcing a novel programme is not new, the latest herculean welfare scheme is a large gamble, which TRS leaders say may even backfire on the ruling party.
Under the Dalit Bandhu scheme, KCR, who heads the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), has promised all eligible Dalits Rs. 10 lakh financial assistance to set up any business of their choice. The idea is to elevate them out of generational poverty, which, politics aside, is much needed for SCs. However, with the chief minister promising to spend a whopping Rs. 1.75 lakh crore, how the state exchequer is going to find the funds for the scheme is going to be challenging to say the least.
“It is not just that we are simply going to give Dalits money to do whatever they want. They will have to come up with a business plan, and funds will be released only if the idea is sound. Details of the programme will be out eventually. The idea is that we should uplift them from poverty for good. It is actually a noble idea that KCR has. Of course political gains will also be a factor,” said a Dalit leader from the TRS, who did not want to be quoted.
The TRS leader added that more than pressure from outside, there may be issues from within the party itself over implementation of the Dali Bandhu scheme. “Dalits have been backward because upper caste or dominant caste leaders do not want us to grow. I am not sure how KCR will handle the blow back, but if he actually ensures this scheme works, it will be a great thing,” he further opined.
One reason why critics and opposition have censured the TRS and KCR over the Bandhu scheme is over its pilot implementation in the Huzurabad Assembly seat, which is due for a by-election. The seat was vacated in June after former TRS health minister Eatala Rajender was sacked by the state cabinet by KCR over land-grabbing allegations. He has since joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
So far, KCR has released Rs. 2,000 crore for he Huzurabad seat alone. However, last week, a statement from his office also said that four more mandals from four reserved (SC) Assembly seats will also be part of the pilot implementation of the Dalit Bandhu scheme.
Political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy said that there will be other caste groups who will react to such a massive welfare scheme, which might work against the TRS. “KCR is certainly doing this keeping in mind the 2023 elections as well, and not just for Huzurabad, because he is not so short sighted,” he told siasat.com.