Naveen Patnaik
Naveen PatnaikReuters

Taking cue from Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday adopted plans of distributing free gadgets and utilities among the poor and the meritorious of almost every section of voters.

With an eye at the 2014 elections, Patnaik's government has allocated ₹2 crore for empowering the farming community of Odisha with technology.

Patnaik distributed free mobile phones to around 15,000 farmers who had Kisan Credit Cards, on Tuesday.

Beneficiaries from far away districts came to collect the free handsets. "Since the government is providing free, I have come to take the mobile. But this will not influence my vote," 75-year-old Sudhir Majhi from Mayurbhanj district told IBNLive.

This is the seventh time in the past six months that Patnaik is being generous towards his future voters. There have been crores of rupees set aside per year for giving 1kg rice at ₹1, blankets and umbrellas for poor families. Free laptops to 15,000 students were also given.

"To bridge the digital divide all the meritorious students at Plus-2 level will be provided with free laptops. Special focus would also be given to girls and students belonging to SC and ST communities," Patnaik had said while launching the Orissa Youth Policy on 7 April.

 He also announced financial assistance of ₹10,000 each to youth clubs in the state. Patnaik did not leave NGOs behind; ₹10,000 each was allotted to one lakh self help groups in Odisha.

His government has been announcing these populist measures partially because it worked for him in the previous 2009 elections where he had announced ₹2 per kg of rice. This time he has gone on full swing to persuade every section of the society.

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