Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday targeted Centre’s rural development schemes, saying that ‘charity’ for winning elections instead of solid development work will not help improve rural India.
This is for the first time Mr. Modi attacked the socialist agenda undertaken by the Congress-led UPA for rural welfare.
Apparently hinting at popular schemes like Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guranttee Act (MNREGA) and other cash doling schemes introduced by the Congress government, Mr. Modi said this will not empower people to be self-reliant.
“We have said one thing about rural development that it should have an element of responsibility. But, a trend of charity has begun in the country these days, because they (Centre) have no other objective than winning the elections,” Mr. Modi said.
“Solid development should take place which can empower people to stand on their feet and can help develop economy of a village. If this doesn’t happen then no matter how much we keep giving, change will not occur,” he asserted.
He was addressing a large gathering of farmers at the National Conference on Panchayati Raj and Rural Development in Gandhinagar. Farmers from 26 States and four Union Territories are participating in the conference.
“I believe that biggest dream of any government in India can’t be bigger than eradicating poverty from villages by encouraging economic activity and creating employment,” Mr. Modi said.
Stating that the all-women model (Samras Gam scheme) in Gujarat aptly defines women empowerment, Mr. Modi lauded the aim of one panchayat in Gandhinagar of having a poverty-free village by encouraging economic activity.
“A group of women from a gram panchayat in Kheda came to me demanding that we should give them a scheme which encourages economic activity, because if the activity gathers pace then there would be no unemployed and no poor in the village,” he said.
The Gujarat Chief Minister said talk over rural development was incomplete without speaking about Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhai Patel and Balwant Mehta.
Recalling the vision of father of the nation, Mr. Modi said, “Mahatma Gandhi spoke of Gram Rajya and Gram Swarajya.”
“Had we implemented Gandhiji’s vision in letter and spirit our villages would have gone far ahead of the cities. And if we implement it even today, no one will think of going to the cities, everyone will stay in the villages,” he said.
He said Mahatma Gandhi’s vision for the development of villages is 100 per cent relevant today.
“Gram Sabha should be as important to the village as the Lok Sabha is for the nation,” Mr. Modi said.
Stating that by sitting in the state capital authorities cannot take decisions about the needs of villages, Mr. Modi laid emphasis on providing more autonomy to the panchayats for village development.