BHOPAL: Six months ahead of the assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday accused previous Congress governments of “step-motherly treatment to villages” and “breaking their trust”.
PM Modi was in Rewa town, 490km from Bhopal, to flag off three new trains and inaugurate five Nal Jal Schemes worth Rs 7,853 crore on Panchayati Raj Day. He also dedicated 4 lakh new PM Awas Yojana homes.
Madhya Pradesh Governor Mangubhai Patel, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Union minister for rural development and panchayati raj Giriraj Singh were present on the occasion.
Addressing a large gathering, the Prime Minister said, “The people of Chhindwara on whom you (Congress and PCC chief Kamal Nath) depended for a long time, were oblivious of development.” Chhindwara is the turf of Congress stalwart and former chief minister Kamal Nath who represented the Lok Sabha constituency for nine terms and is leading the party into electoral combat in November 2023.
“The political party that ran the government for the longest time, broke the trust of our villages,” PM Modi alleged, adding: “Villagers, schools, village roads, rural electricity, storehouse for grains in villages, rural economy – all these were kept as the lowest priority under Congress rule.”
More than half the country lives in villages and the nation cannot progress if villages are given a step-motherly treatment, the PM said.
Mahatma Gandhi used to say that the soul of India lives in villages but Congress disregarded his ideology. In the Nineties, they only did a formality in the name of panchayati raj. They divided people living in villages to run their business,” the Prime Minister alleged.
Previous governments did a lot of injustice to the rural areas, he said, alleging that they “destroyed the panchayati raj system”.
“They were reluctant to spend funds on villages. The village was not considered a vote-bank and hence neglected. My government opened the treasury for the development of villages,” he said.
“After 2014, the country took the responsibility for empowering the panchayats. Before 2014, the finance commission’s allocation for panchayats was less than Rs 70,000 crore. After 2014, this allocation increased to more than Rs 2 lakh crore,” he said.He argued that before 2014, the previous government constructed around 6,000 panchayat bhavans in the country. “Our government has built more than 30,000 new panchayat bhavans in eight years,” he said.
He also maintained that rural people were not given banking rights by the previous government. “My government changed the scenario. We started the Jan-Dhan Yojana and opened bank accounts for 40 crore people in rural areas. Using post-offices, we reached banks to the villages. Today, the impact can be seen as people are receiving cash directly in their accounts,” he said.
The PM said more than 30lakh panchayat representatives from across the country were virtually connected to the programme held in Rewa. “This is certainly a very powerful picture of India’s democracy,” he said.
Talking about the ‘digital development’ of rural areas under his government, Modi said panchayats are also being made smart in this era of digital revolution. “The eGram Swaraj-GeM (government e-marketplace) integrated portal has been launched today and it will make the process of procurement through panchayats simple and transparent,” he said.
Work on ‘property cards’ has been completed in 75,000 villages in the country, the PM said, lauding the MP government’s efforts on this project.
He said the previous governments had connected less than 70 gram panchayats with the optical fibers. “It is our government which has taken the optical fiber to more than 2 lakh panchayats,” he said.