All 200 MLAs in Rajasthan received an iPhone 13 as a gift from the Ashok Gehlot government after the state budget was presented in the assembly today.
Last year, the MLAs were presented iPads along with a copy of the budget.
Usually, after the budget is presented, the MLAs are given a copy of the budget in a briefcase at the time they leave the House. But this time it was a smart leather briefcase with a brand new iPhone 13 inside, which costs between Rs 75,000-1 lakh, along with a copy of the budget.
The gift would have cost the state nearly Rs 1.5 crore.
Most MLAs, cutting across party lines, were delighted with the gift.
However, state BJP chief Satish Poonia said that the party’s MLAs will return their iPhones. The BJP has 71 MLAs in the 200-member House.
“After discussion with honorable @Gulab_kataria ji and @Rajendra4BJP ji and other legislators, it has been decided that all the @BJP4Rajasthan MLAs will return the iPhone given by the Congress government keeping in view the financial burden on the state government,” he said in a tweet.
The Ashok Gehlot government’s Budget 2022- 2023 ha an eye on the polls coming up at the end of next year. There were various sops for the common man and a cut-back on electricity rates that the government will subsidise.
An urban employment guarantee scheme on the lines of MNREGA, which will provide the urban poor with 100 days of employment, was also included in the budget.
For state government employees, who are crucial in the political spectrum, the budget proposed a return to the old pension scheme. The previous government had created a pension fund where the employees had to contribute 30 per cent of their salaries. But the Gehlot government did away with that and said all government employees will be given pensions in the traditional way.
The state’s tourism sector has also been given the status of an industry.
Moreover, for the first time, the chief minister presented a separate budget for farmers. The government has promised to undertake 11 missions to increase farmers’ incomes.
But the opposition criticised the government for building castles in the air and wondered if the promises would be fulfilled at all.