HindustanTimes Sun,21 Dec 2014

Rahul Gandhi leads last-minute rush to clear projects

Saubhadra Chatterji , Hindustan Times  New Delhi New Delhi, March 05, 2014
First Published: 20:53 IST(5/3/2014) | Last Updated: 02:44 IST(9/3/2014)

From building rural roads in Rahul Gandhi’s Amethi to a steep hike in dearness allowance for government employees in Madhya Pradesh — political leaders scrambled over the last 24 hours to push in new schemes and policies before the model code of conduct came into play.

Since September 2012, construction of rural roads in 44 projects had come to a standstill in Gandhi’s Lok Sabha seat, following a fraud by a contractor in three projects. And Gandhi’s rival candidate, Kumar Vishwas of the Aam Aadmi Party, had already made the dismal condition of Amethi roads as a poll issue.

In a frantic effort to restart work, UPA’s junior rural development minister Pradip Jain “Aditya” held a six-hour meeting with local officials to ensure that work on 232-km road started on Tuesday, a day before the model code of conduct kicked in.

“Gandhi is the chairman of the vigilance and monitoring committee for rural projects but failed to give the matter any attention through all these months,” said an official.

On Tuesday, the Madhya Pradesh government too, announced 100% dearness allowance (DA) payable from January 1, 2014, to its employees.

In Patna, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar chaired a cabinet meeting till 9 pm to clear a R391-crore project to tackle the city’s traffic woes. And he was not the only chief minister to spend late hours in office to clear projects on Tuesday.

His Punjab counterpart, Parkash Singh Badal, too, cleared files till late evening to give Jats and Jat Sikhs the status of Backward Classes. The move will make them eligible for reservation in state jobs and education.

In neighbouring Haryana, Bhupinder Hooda’s government managed to pass a bill to extend the cut-off date for regularisation of unauthorised colonies from June 30, 2009 to January 1, 2014.

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav used even the available window on Wednesday morning -- minutes before the Election Commission’s presser started at 10.30 am, to launch projects. Till 9.45am, Yadav inaugurated a mobile fish parlour, distributed letters of authority to fishermen and announced R2,000 crore Kamdhenu dairy and poultry project.

(With inputs for Lucknow, Chandigarh, Patna, Kolkata, Jaipur)

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