The Assam government’s women’s entreprenuership scheme, Mukhyamantri Mahila Udyamita Abhiyan, has come for sharp criticism from the Congress.
The scheme aims to promote entrepreneurship among 3.9 million women members of self-help groups in the state. It will be launched between January 18 and 25, just at a time when the Congress is holding the Assam-leg of Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra.
“The scheme was announced in last year’s budget, but significantly, a few days ago, the CM had a video conference with deputy commissioners where it was decided to give out the forms only for one day specified for the districts. This is a political conspiracy to keep women away from Gandhi’s rallies,” said Congress leader of opposition Debabrata Saikia.
According to the Congress route map, Gandhi will enter Assam from Nagaland on January 18 at Haluating in Sivasagar district. From there he will tour Jorhat district and spend the night there. And forms of the scheme for Sivasagar, Jorhat, Dibrugarh, Tinsukia and Charaideo districts will be distributed only on the same day.
Likewise, the yatra will exit the state from Dhubri district on January 25. And the forms for Dhubri, South Salmara, Kokrajhar, Chirang and Baksa districts will be handed out on the same date. Forms for the other 25 districts will be distributed for six days from January 19-24.
“I have already written to the CM and the panchayat minister demanding the dates be changed as distribution of forms for just one day could prevent some women from getting the forms due to illnesses, deaths in the family, etc. Distributing forms for just one day clearly shows the BJP government fears Gandhi,” said Saikia.
“If they are so concerned about attendance at Gandhi’s yatra, they should change the schedule in Assam,” said state BJP spokesperson Rupam Goswami.
According to the scheme, in the first phase, each applicant will be provided with a grant of ₹10,000 for the first year to start any business from a list of 145 business plans prepared by the government. The total amount earmarked by the scheme as part of the state annual budget is ₹3,900 crores, making it the biggest such scheme in Assam.
In the second year, each woman will get a bank loan of ₹12,500 and a same amount as grant from the state government. There will also be an audit to see whether the amount they received in the previous year has been utilised well.