Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy launched yet another welfare scheme on Wednesday, for Kapu women in the age group of 45-60. The scheme provides financial assistance of Rs 15,000 per year over the next five years, to women from Kapu, Balija, Telaga and Ontari communities, whose income falls below the poverty line.
According to an official statement, Jagan claimed that nearly 23 lakh people from the Kapu community have received around Rs 4,470 crores over the past year, through different welfare schemes like Amma Vodi (for mothers and guardians of school-going children),Vasati Deevena (for college students’ hostel and mess charges), Vidya Deevana (fee reimbursement scheme), Vahana Mitra (assistance for auto and cab drivers).
Speaking at the launch event, CM Jagan said that in the past 13 months, the YSRCP government has transferred over Rs 43,000 crore in the form of financial assistance to around 3.98 crore people in the state. For the present year, under the Kapu Nestham scheme, nearly 2.36 lakh women received assistance worth Rs 354 crore in total.
The Kapu Nestham scheme was part of the campaign promises made by Jagan before the 2019 elections.
Although the Kapu community is categorised under the General Category in Andhra Pradesh, the community has been demanding to be included under the BC (Backward Classes) category for several years. Much of the Kapu population is concentrated in the Godavari districts of the state, and the community plays a significant role during elections, in determining a party’s chances of victory.
In 2016, the state saw violent protests over the issue in East Godavari. Several Kapu activists including former Minister Mudragada Padmnabham, who has been leading the movement, were booked by the police for their alleged role in inciting violence. At the time, the ruling TDP had blamed the YSRCP for inciting the violence. These cases were recently dropped by the YSRCP government.
The TDP government had proposed to provide half of the 10% EWS (Economically Weaker Sections) quota to Kapus. However, after coming to power in 2019, the YSRCP government said that the state government did not have the authority to break down the EWS quota provided by the Centre.