Ahead of the crucial Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, the free electricity pre-poll pitch of Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav is estimated to cost the exchequer more than Rs 34,000 crore in total power subsidy bill.
Taking a leaf out of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) template, Yadav has promised to give 300 units of free power to household consumers every month if SP formed the next government in UP.
There are 27.5 million household power consumers in the state, while the households qualifying for free power up to 300 units is projected at 24.3 million, thereby incur nearly Rs 21,186 crore per annum
At the same time, the UP government already incurs about Rs 11,000 crore over subsidised power to the select category of consumers, apart from an additional Rs 2,000 crore for supplying free power to the farm sector comprising 1.3 million consumers.
Therefore, Yadav’s free power dole would add up to a whopping Rs 34,186 crore on account of new and existing power subsidy heads going forward.
While the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is yet to release its UP election manifesto, the saffron party had promised to provide 200 units of free power in the run up to the West Bengal elections last year.
As such, the BJP could toe a similar line and offer matching sops in the power sector to keep the electorate in good humour before the voting takes place in UP. The state comprises the maximum 403 legislative assembly segments in India.
Meanwhile, UP Rajya Vidyut Upbhogta Parishad chairman Avadhesh Verma questioned the viability of the free power promise saying the new government would need to announce advance subsidies to fulfill the promise.
“Although, the standing regulations contain provisions to offer power bill subsidy, the estimated outgo in fulfilling the latest promise would be an uphill task given the large number of consumers and thereby the estimated fiscal burden,” he noted.