‘Govt focused on economic welfare of farmers, poor’

'Govt focussed on economic welfare of farmers, poor'NEW DELHI: Dismissing claims that the Centre’s “pro-farmer” talks aimed at changing its alleged ‘suit-boot ki sarkar’ image, Union Ministers today said the government is focused on economic welfare of farmers and the poor and accused the Congress of not doing its bit when it was in power.

Claiming that Congress is trying to “re-establish” its political identity relying on farmers after its poll debacle in 2014, the ministers said its vice-president Rahul Gandhi should look for new catch-phrases as the ones like ‘suit boot ki sarkar’ will not help the party win over the people.

“The point is our government has taken such initiatives which no other government could take in the past 60 years. And this is the reason, (they) are relying on farmers to re-establish their political identity and targeting us.

“This is for the first time you have a pro-farmer and village-oriented budget. This is part of the Prime Minister’s vision and these steps are being taken to realize the same.

This ‘suit boot ki sarkar’ (slogan) will not work with the people now. Rahulji should coin some new catch-phrases,” Union Minister Birender Singh said.

Singh made the remark while briefing mediapersons about the Centre’s ‘Gram Uday Se Bharat Uday’ campaign, which aims at financial strengthening of farmers and 2.58 lakh hamlets while ensuring social harmony across villages.

Cabinet Ministers Radha Mohan Singh and Narendra Singh Tomar and Ministers of State Krishan Pal Gurjar, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and Nihal Chand also attended the briefing.

During the briefing, Tomar countered opposition charges that the government is trying to woo Dalit voters through the 11-day campaign, which gets underway on April 14, the birth anniversary of B R Ambedkar, and said votes do not matter to the government, but strengthening of all does.

“I understand people (in opposition) had their eyes set on vote banks for a long period post-independence. They got votes, but they did neither Dalit welfare nor overall development. For us, votes do not matter, it is the duty of the government to see each citizen become strong,” he said.

The minister said people know Ambedkar for his role as the architect of the Constitution, but, he added, the government aims at underscoring his significant contribution towards the country’s integrity through the campaign.

“People should be made aware of this too and this responsibility goes first to those who are in power. Hence, this program is being organized,” he said.

Attacking Congress, Rathore charged the party with framing policies in line with its vote banks and said political rivals should instead engage in “politics of development”.

“What is wrong in strengthening farmers financially? What is wrong in ensuring countrywide social harmony? In strengthening Panchayati Raj? And this (program) doesn’t belong to any political party, but all, states and central government. These parties too should work on politics of development,” he said. Rathore said the ‘Gram Uday Se Bharat Uday Abhiyan’, to be kick-started by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is part of the Centre’s efforts to strengthen villages while ensuring social harmony across the hamlets, empowerment of women and uplift of scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and persons with disabilities.

The campaign, to be run jointly by Union Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Agriculture, Social Justice, Labor and Information and Broadcasting Ministries along with states, will culminate on April 24 (Panchayati Raj Day) with Modi addressing villagers in Jamshedpur.

Rathore said that on the first three days (April 14 to April 1) of the campaign, discussions will be held on social harmony and justice across all the villages in the country.

The next four days will have discussions and programs lined up on how to strengthen farmers by increasing their incomes.

In this phase, scientists and government officials will go to villages and hold discussions with farmers on ways to improving agricultural practices and thereby, increasing incomes of peasants. The Centre has asked officials to also take down suggestions made by farmers in view of designing policies.

“During the last four days, including on Panchayati Raj Day to be observed on April 24, there will be discussion on how Panchayati Raj system can be strengthened across the country. During these days, the gram panchayats will discuss their one-year or five-year development programs,” he added.

The campaign will not be run in poll-bound West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry, Rural Development Minister Birender Singh said.

Asked about implementation of rural job scheme MGNREGA, Singh said the government is offering work of 150 days to each person in drought-affected areas. In normal case, the scheme promises 100 days of work.–PTI

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