The first smartphones under the Sanchar Kranti Yojana are likely to be distributed this week, with the project either to be inaugurated by President Ram Nath Kovind on July 26 or later by the CM himself on July 30.

Days before Chief Minister Raman Singh is set to launch his ambitious Sanchar Kranti Yojana, which will see 50 smartphones be distributed to the poor and to students across the state, the Chhattisgarh Janata Congress has written to the Election Commission, calling this an election sop and asking them to halt its distribution. The first smartphones under the scheme are likely to be distributed this week, with the project either to be inaugurated by President Ram Nath Kovind on July 26 or later by the CM himself on July 30.

In a seven-point representation to the Election Commission of India, through the Chief Electoral Officer of Chhattisgarh, Ajit Jogi, president of the Chhattisgarh Janata Congress wrote, “The state government, to give an incentive to voters, is going to distribute 51 lakh smartphones on the eve of elections…This phone will have pre-loaded software which will incentivise voters to vote for the BJP. Therefore, there should be an immediate stop to the distribution of mobile phones.”

Senior government officials, however, said the phones would come with “Goth” app, the Chhattisgarhiya word for conversation and it was not a political tool but one to increase e-governance. A release by the Department of Public Relations issued on July 22 said the app would allow users to find out central and state schemes applicable to them, with “useful information” for women, farmers, and students, as well as entertainment programmes based on Chhattisgarh folk traditions.

In his letter, Jogi also asked the Election Commission to shut down all alcohol shops in the state one month before the elections since it was the state government that now operated them. Among the other five points made were to increase the last date of enrolment of voters to September 15, transfer all senior administrative officers who have had more than a two-year term, hold the election in three phases, and compulsorily video record all polling stations in Chhattisgarh.

Ajit Jogi to contest from Marwahi constituency?

There were indications from the Chhattisgarh Janata Congress on Monday that Ajit Jogi would contest the Marwahi constituency in the upcoming elections, of which his son Amit Jogi is presently the MLA. Ajit Jogi previously won elections in 2003 and 2008 from Marwahi, with his son then winning in 2013. Jogi had previously announced that he would fight two seats in the state, one of them Rajnandgaon against Chief Minister Raman Singh. Amit Jogi told reporters in Bilaspur on Monday that he would not “come in between the people of Marwahi and his father” and that the final decision would be taken by the party.

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