The Congress’ rally turned out to be a grand show here with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh joining party general secretary Rahul Gandhi in attacking the Mayawati government for the slow pace of development and blaming non-Congress governments for region’s backwardness here on Saturday.
As this was the first public rally of any prime minister in Banda after 22 years (first of Manmohan Singh in Bndelkhand) and the Congress leaders had put in great efforts in the past few days for the rally a large crowd had turned up at the GIC grounds here.
So, the PM and Rahul also tried to touch the emotional chord beginning their address with reference to the region’s distinct culture and Jhansi Ki Rani. PM focused more on region’s backwardness, implementation of the special development package of Rs 7266 crore and the water crisis here while Rahul attacked Mayawati government for neglecting the region.
PM announced that the Centre had worked out a Rs 200 crore scheme for providing drinking water in the region in addition to the package. He hoped that the scheme would be cleared by May 2011.
“A sum of Rs 1800 crore has been released as additional central assistance in the past two years. Uttar Pradesh government has not used these funds as expeditiously as we expected,” said Prime Minister while addressing a large public meeting at the GIC grounds here on Saturday.
Other announcements made at the rally include upgradation of Jhansi medical college and setting of a central agriculture university at Jhansi. The work to move a bill in parliament to set up the university has begun, he said.
Rahul in his brief address referred to the exodus of people from the villages due to poverty and said the state government was not hearing the voice of the people despite being close to them. The Centre was however paying all attention to the problems of the region, he said. “We will ensure that the voice of the Bndelkhand people reached Lucknow,” said Rahul. He said there were gross anomalies in the BPL list and the Centre should ensure that these were removed. Referring to the suicides by people due to hunger Rahul said the proposed food security bill would solve such issues.
Taking a dig at the opposition parties the PM said the Congress led governments at the Centre and in the state had always brought development to the region. But the pace of developed had slowed down during the tenure of non-Congress governments and the irrigation projects initiated during the tenure of Congress led government were lying incomplete, he said while listing the projects that had been closed down here.
“We should forget whatever political differences we may have and move forward united for the development of Bundelkhand,” he said.
PM said the Centre , the Uttar Pradesh and the Madhya Pradesh governments should work in collaboration with each other to ensure that the benefits reached the people of the region. “The success of the Bundelkhand package will depend on the collaboration that the Centre, the Uttar Pradesh government and the Madhya Pradesh government may have in implementing the package,” said the PM.
PM said the Centre would consider all the suggestions made with regard to the package. But the UP government and the Madhya Pradesh government should ensure that there should not be any lack of efforts in the implementation of the package,” he said. He said the Centre would continue making special efforts for the development of the region even after the implementation of the special package.
“Our effort is to remove poverty and bring happiness and prosperity here,” said the PM. But the efforts initiated to bring about development in the region would depend on the role of the state governments, he said. The two state governments would have to lay an important role and should earmark separate funds in their plan for the development of the region, he said.
He said the planning commission had constituted an advisory committee with all the MPs from the region as its members. The committee would meet o May 20, and he had asked the deputy chairman of the planning commission to give him all the information about the deliberations there, said the PM.
PM also spoke about the NTPC’s proposed 3600 MW thermal power plant at Barethi in Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh and said allotment of power to Bundelkhand from central generating stations had gone up, he said.