MPs believe model village scheme though noble, needs clarity

  • Prashant Jha, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Aug 27, 2014 10:47 IST

Ten days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed to MPs to adopt a village under a new Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana in his Independence Day address, lawmakers across party lines are grappling with the real political, administrative, and logistical challenges in heeding his advice.

The government plans to come out with a blueprint of the scheme on October 11, the birth anniversary of Jai Prakash Narayan.

While BJP MPs predictably supported their PM's idea, the opposition was divided on whether this was tokenism or could have tangible impact. Within the Congress, Gaurav Gogoi, a Lok Sabha MP from Assam, told HT he was 'glad' the PM brought it up and got villages back in focus. But his party colleague, Mani Shankar Aiyar called the scheme 'comical'. "Even if all 800 MPs adopt a village each, it will mean only 800 villages in a country of millions of villages,” he said.

NCP RS MP DP Tripathi agreed with the government and said Modi's suggestion was “practical”. Tripathi has decided to adopt the poorest village in the poorest district of Vidharba region in Maharashtra. He suggests LS MPs can pick a village from their constituency, RS MPs can pick one from the state, and 12 nominated RS MPs can pick any from the country.

But it is precisely the selection of a village which will be a real challenge for many MPs. JD(U) RS MP, KC Tyagi, told HT that there must be a bar on any MP adopting either his own village, or a village dominated by his own caste. "There is a real danger that he will work only for his biradari (clan). MPs from rural areas must compulsorily adopt a Dalit or sweepers village, and those from urban areas must pick a slum,” he said.

These conditions do not quite work for other MPs. Congress MP from Jalandhar, Santokh Singh Chaudhary says, "I have 800 villages in my constituency. Each expects funds from MPLADS. If I adopt one and give more money there, there will be resentment."

But Assam MP Gaurav Gogoi says he is already working on certain villages. "The key thing is people in the village must be motivated and optimistic. I identify change-makers within a village," he said.

The third issue is of jurisdiction. In India's multilayered administrative structure, the parliamentarian has limited powers to execute projects on the ground.

BJP LS MP from Bihar RK Singh admits there is an issue but quickly points out, “While district officials are mostly limited to their own department, an MP can pool in resources from central government schemes, work across departments, and concentrate development efforts in one village.”

But all agree the PM’s idea, even if noble, needs far greater clarity.

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