The UPA government has resurrected the garibi hatao slogan that helped Indira Gandhi sweep the 1971 general elections with a two-thirds majority.
On Thursday, the cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh approved the restructuring of the 20-point programme (TPP) - initiated by Indira Gandhi in 1975 - to make it relevant to the 21st century "with particular reference to economic reforms, liberalisation and globalisation of the Indian economy".
While doing so, it replaced Garibi Unmoolan (poverty alleviation) - as the first point of the revised TPP initially read - with garibi hatao (eradicate poverty) for its political and historical value, not to mention the directness of its message.
Information and Broadcasting Minister PR Dasmunsi said the garibi hatao call would reflect the content and objective of the government's anti-poverty programmes better.
The changes in the TPP will come into force from April next year, almost coinciding with the election campaigns in Punjab, Uttaranchal and Uttar Pradesh.
Dasmunsi said the repackaged 20-point programme would make a difference. The new TPP is a mix of social-sector schemes and initiatives whose implementation will be closely monitored to ensure that the benefits reach the targeted sections.
In its March 2005 cabinet note, the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation — that oversees the implementation of the TPP — had asked whether TPP 1986 should be restructured as TPP 2006 or scrapped altogether. The Congress-led UPA has chosen the first option.
Dasmunsi maintained that the old TPP "scored sufficiently" but had to be restructured to bring within its ambit new policies and programmes. In its new avatar, the programme will be more "focused" and enable "efficient monitoring". Its 1986 version, bequeathed by the Rajiv Gandhi government, had 119 items. TPP 2006 will have 64 items.
The changes harmonise the programme with the priorities set out in the UPA's National Common Minimum Programme. The UN Millennium Development Goal and the SAARC Social Charter have also been factored into the revised TPP, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee said. He had headed the Group of Ministers that restructured the programme for the cabinet's approval.
TPP 2006 includes food security, housing for all, provision of clean drinking water, education and health for all, women, child and youth welfare and e-governance. A four-tier monitoring mechanism will be put in place at the block, district, state and central levels for its effective implementation.