Former Union Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar on Thursday blamed the Central government’s development model for exploitation of tribals and accused UPA-1 of being callous towards empowerment of poor through Panchayati Raj bodies.
“For five years as a Panchayati Raj minister I did not have an office,” Aiyar said at a conference on exploitation of tribals in Nyamgiri Hills in Orissa in the name of Posco Steel plant. “The (Panchayati Raj) ministry was housed in Samrat Hotel for which the government gave Rs 5 crore.”
Aiyar said no one listened to him on empowerment of panchayats in UPA-1.
“The Central government could have given direction to states to implement panchayati raj laws such as PESA (Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas Act) but the government was not willing to take the initiative.”
Aiyar further said the government was being run for 100 most rich people in India, who have one-fourth of the country’s wealth, and it went against the Congress slogan of “Congress ka haath aam adami ka saath” in presence of party general secretary Digvijay Singh.
Highly critical of present development model, Aiyar said, “tribals need azadi (freedom) from development” and described the present model as a “crime perpetuated” on the rural poor.
“I am shocked to read that the Centre believes that R14,000 crore through Integrated Action Plan can solve naxalism whereas it has given thousands of crores for plundering on Commonwealth Games.”