After free laptops and wifi, now free smartphones are making their debut in UP elections.

Akhilesh Yadav’s big surprise for the people of Uttar Pradesh, which will vote for a new government next year, is your gadget child, known as smartphones. The Chief Minister’s “Samajwadi Smartphone Yojana” or scheme will be a “two-way communication tool to inform and educate the poor about government schemes and policies,” says an internal note of the government.

Operating system of the phones is still unclear, but it’s a possibility that the phones will run on Android 5 Lollipop. Anyone who is over 18 and a citizen of Uttar Pradesh can apply for one, provided their family income is less than 2 lakh rupees a year. People have been asked to apply for one of these free smartphones through online registrations, which are likely to start a month after the scheme is cleared later this week.

The note also reveals that the smartphones will be home-delivered to the beneficiaries “in the second half of 2017”, which is seen as a clear sign that the government is tying its electoral fortune to this freebie.

In the 2012 election, when the Samajwadi Party returned to power in Uttar Pradesh, one of its key promises was free laptops for students, a promise that the 43-year-old chief minister kept but not without controversy.
In the election due early next year, Uttar Pradesh is likely to see a tough four-cornered fight between the Samajwadi Party, the BJP, Mayawati’s BSP and the Congress.

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