The first list of Smart Cities released by the Centre on Thursday did not include a single city from Uttar Pradesh, which goes to the polls next year.
Opposition parties criticised the BJP-led Centre for excluding cities in Uttar Pradesh from Smart Cities Mission questioning its commitment to the people of India’s most populous State.
The ruling Samajwadi Party accused the Narendra Modi-led government of cheating the people of UP, which gave the BJP 71 MPs (out of the 80 seats in the State) in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Since elections are due next year in the State it was expected that the list would include cities from it.
Cabinet Minister and SP spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary said it was unfortunate that cities from the State did not figure in the list. He accused the BJP government of deceiving the people of UP. “Will the 71 BJP MPs and a many ministers raise voice?” he asked.
Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly of the Bahujan Samaj Party Swami Prasad Maurya also attacked the BJP saying it reiterated the Centre’s “step-motherly treatment” and “indifference” towards the State.
U.P. had sent out a list of 13 cities to the government for development as Smart Cities, the maximum for any State. Apart from the State capital Lucknow, the list included important centres Meerut, Aligarh, Agra, Rampur, Allahabad, Jhansi, Kanpur and Varanasi, also Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency.
Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav had pitched for a higher share of Smart Cities from the State. Even before the Centre’s ambitious project could be set in motion, Mr. Yadav’s government formalised its own version of the Smart Cities concept named the ‘Model Cities’ development project.
The State government is said to have drawn out a blue print of the project, which would seek to provide affordable housing for urban poor, better sanitation, health, traffic system and transport facilities. The State would develop cities with heritage value, such as Chitrakoot and Vrindavan, important destinations for Hindu pilgrims.