The Adityanath Yogi government has found itself in another quagmire. This time it’s about providing free laptops to students who have passed Class XII exams and opt for further exams. The state secondary education department expected 12 lakh students to be beneficiaries of the scheme, but this year the UP board passed 20 lakh students and another one lakh passed the CBSE and ICSE streams. The government had set aside a budget of Rs 1,800 crore for purchase of laptops at the cost of Rs 15,000 each. Now it will have to shell out Rs 2,830 crore for all 21 lakh students. The government has already pledged Rs 36,000 crore towards waiver of farmers loans and with Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley making it clear that the Centre will not allocate any money for waiver of farmers loans, the burden is back on the State government. Free laptops and tablets schemes are a way of buying votes with public money. They are a drain on the exchequer and achieve nothing, except increase in revenue for suppliers. The UP government must have a policy which determines who gets an laptop. Certain criteria must be established and students must be made to pay a portion of the cost because there is no such thing as a free lunch.