With the state heading to the polls in a matter of months, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu on Friday doubled the existing monthly pension of the elderly, widows and others to Rs 2,000 from the existing Rs 1,000. Touting it as a 'Sankranti festival bonanza for more than 54 lakh pensioners', the state government said that it would come into effect from January.
In a press release, the Chief Minister's office said that taking the increase into account, a total of Rs 3,000 would be paid to the pensioners in February before continuing to be Rs 2,000 per month from March onwards.
"With this Sankranti festival gift, 24,22,444 elderly persons, 20,13,808 widows, 6,41,820 persons with disabilities, 1,07,992 weavers, 28,011 toddy tappers, 32,979 HIV patients, 1,665 transgender persons, 45,358 fishermen, 1,12,471 single women, 8,044 dialysis patients totalling 54,14,592 people will be benefited. Those people having more than 80 percent disability and transgender persons getting Rs 1,500 at present will now get pension of Rs 3,000," the press release stated.
"Despite a financial crunch due to state bifurcation and non-cooperation from central government, the state government is committed to the welfare of the poor and decided to increase the pensions," the Chief Minister stated.
The Chief Minister also announced distribution of land pattas to 60,596 women to an extent of 66,276.79 acres costing Rs 8,000 crore benefiting 29,966 women from the SC community, 8,341 from the ST community, 18,244 BC women and 4,024 OC in all ten constituencies of Nellore district, the CMO press release added.
Naidu lashed out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said that the Centre had to release Rs 75,000 crore to Andhra Pradesh and added that the Centre was ready to release Rs 35,000 crore, but the order was awaiting a nod from the Prime Minister.
The announcement comes at a crucial time as the state is just months away from the Legislative Assembly and Lok Sabha elections, which will be held simultaneously. Naidu is keen to storm back to power as he wants to prove that he still enjoys the support of the people. However, he has no easy fight, as he is up against YSRCP’s Jaganmohan Reddy, who recently completed a 3,648 km padayatra.
Actor-politician and Jana Sena party chief Pawan Kalyan is also in the fray.