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AKHILESH YADAV LAUNCHES ‘KNOW YOUR BUDGET’ INITIATIVE FOR UP RESIDENTS

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The social media initiative is to ensure that information on Yadav’s farmer- and student-focused state budget unveiled earlier this month reaches the last mile

New Delhi: Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav has come up with a new social media initiative to ensure that information on his farmer- and student-focused budget unveiled earlier this month reaches the last mile, with an eye on Assembly elections next year.

Started on 13 February, a day after the budget was rolled out, ‘Know Your Budget’ has been launched on Yadav’s official twitter handle, @CMOfficeUP. It follows a multiple choice question format where budget-related questions are asked and people have to answer by way of voting. The correct answer is revealed the next day.

“This was the idea of our chief minister and he has been personally monitoring this initiative. This is to ensure that information about everything the government does for the people reaches them,” said Rajesh Dixit, national secretary of the Samajwadi Party (SP).

At 22.90 million, Uttar Pradesh had the second highest number of Internet users in the country, as per the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) in 2013. The highest number of Internet users were in Maharashtra at 38.78 million. A similar report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IMRB in 2014 places Uttar Pradesh’s capital Lucknow at the third position, with 1.95 million Internet users among cities having a population of more than 1 million.

On the duration of the initiative, Dixit said, “This cannot be a year-long project; it has to be time-bound. Budget is the most recent thing that has happened; so, till the time people get a fair idea about the new schemes, we will continue with this initiative and when we feel the people of Uttar Pradesh need to know about another issue, we will switch. The feedback so far has been quite positive and all budget-related queries are being answered by the CM’s office.”

Analysts appreciated the effort, but are also sceptical of the method of engagement.

“This is definitely a positive step but it reaches out to a very small section of UP’s population as hardly one-third of the people here have Internet access. People do see Akhilesh Yadav as an upcoming leader and feel that he is modernizing the state, but the on-ground output is not convincing. Hence, the initiative may not deliver the desired result,” said professor Kamal Kumar who teaches political science at Lucknow University.

Know Your Budget follows Akhilesh Yadav’s previous initiative, Know Your Government, which followed a similar format and where questions regarding existing schemes in the state would be asked. While his personal Twitter handle @yadavakhilesh has 846,508 followers, @CMOfficeUP crossed the 100,000 mark on 18 February this year.

Be it breaking down the budget with hashtags like #farmer first and #poore hote wade, his quick response to finding Snapdeal employee Dipti Sarna, a resident of Ghaziabad, to a follow-up showing installation of CCTVs around Vaishali Metro station from where Sarna was abducted, the CM is clearly focused on reaching out through the social media.

 

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