Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has blamed the non-Congress regimes at the Centre and in Uttar Pradesh for Bundelkhand's backwardness and slow development.
Addressing a ‘parivartan' rally with Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi here on Saturday, he said the region prospered only when the Congress ruled at the Centre and in the State. He criticised the Mayawati government for the tardy implementation of the Bundelkhand development package, approved in 2009 by the Centre. “I am hopeful that the situation will improve and political differences will be buried for a greater objective.”
Dr. Singh, on his maiden visit to the Bundelkhand region, announced rural drinking water projects costing Rs.200 crore and the setting up of an agriculture university in Jhansi. While the proposal for the drinking water projects would be approved in May, a Bill would be tabled in Parliament for opening the university in Jhansi.
A super thermal power plant was being set up by the NTPC at Bargarh in the Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh, and 300 MW from the plant would be reserved for Uttar Pradesh. In-principle approval was granted for upgrading the government medical college at Jhansi and for setting up five more Central schools in Bundelkhand once the land was made available by the State government, Dr. Singh said.
The Prime Minister credited the Congress regimes that ruled the State with the development of the region and blamed the non-Congress governments for its backwardness. “While the BHEL unit in Jhansi and the Parichha power plant were opened under the Congress governments, the handloom factory at Mauranipur and the spinning mill in Jhansi closed down when the State was ruled by non-Congress governments, and the float glass factory at Banda was lying incomplete.”
He suggested that since Bundelkhand encompassed areas in Madhya Pradesh too, both the Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh governments have a separate allocation for the region's development. He hoped the States would cooperate with the Centre in the better development of the region.
He lauded UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Mr. Rahul Gandhi for their efforts at the development of the region and said the development package was split between the two States for overcoming water shortage and the problem of scarce irrigation resources and for improving the agriculture potential.
Mr. Gandhi said that while the Centre was alive to the plight of the people of Bundelkhand, their voice was not being heard by the (Bahujan Samaj Party) government in Lucknow. “Delhi is 465 km from Banda and Lucknow about 200 km, but your voice is being heard in Delhi and not in Lucknow.” The Congress would ensure that their voice was heard in Lucknow. He was particularly critical of the state of roads and the pace of development in Bundelkhand.
Mr. Gandhi said the poor and Dalits had not been included in the list of people living below the poverty line. Criticising the State government's silence on the issue for the past four-five years, he urged the Prime Minister to come to the aid of this section. Food security for all, he said, would help to prevent starvation deaths and suicides on account of poverty.