Eighteen months into its tenure, the Vasundhara Raje-led BJP government in Rajasthan has failed to live up to people’s expectations, civil society activists said on Monday, warning it that transferring responsibilities to the private sector is not the panacea for all ills.
Participating in a conference here, activists concurred that in most areas – education, health, employment, agriculture, women and child development, social justice and empowerment – the government has not been able to deliver on its electoral promises.
They also criticised the government plans to privatise health and education services. A report prepared by NGO Cecoedecon and other civil society organisations evaluating the 18 months of the government was also released at the conference by eminent economist Prof VS Vyas. Appreciating the report, he said NGOs act as watchdogs by keeping tabs on the progress made by the government and its shortcomings.
The report titled “Citizens Report 2015” takes a hard look at the BJP government’s current tenure and finds it wanting on most fronts. Former finance minister and independent MLA Manik Chand Surana said the state government’s tenure has so far been disappointing as compared to 2003.
“The government has promised 15 lakh jobs. For this it is totally dependent on the skill development programme. So far only 77,000 people have been trained whereas if the government intends to give 15 lakh jobs, at least 30 lakh people will have to be trained,” Surana said. Panachand Jain, former chief justice of the Rajasthan high court, who is convenor of the report, pointed out that expectations from the government were high but it hasn’t been able to deliver.
According to Jain, the water table is consistently falling, agriculture is becoming unviable, pollution is becoming a serious problem, discrimination against women and weaker sections is widespread, rates of maternal and infant mortality remain high and literacy level is low. Jain said the initiatives like Sarkar Aapke Dwar, Nyay Aapke Dwar, jan sunwai by ministers, daily meetings by sarpanchs in panchayats had taken off well but are now foundering.
The government’s plan, he said, to hand over health and education services to private players was a worrisome development. “If we say we are a welfare state then it is the government’s responsibility to provide basic services like health and education,” he said. Kulbhushan Kothari, managing trustee of Pratham Rajasthan, said while Rajasthan has improved on student enrolment and infrastructure development, quality of education provided remains a concern and a challenge. Activist Vijay Goel criticised the government for cutting back on welfare measures like the food security scheme, free medicine scheme and the free diagnostic test scheme.
Meanwhile, state Congress president Sachin Pilot on Monday said BJP’s strategy to defend Vasundhara Raje in Parliament over Lalitgate was a breach of promise made to the people. He alleged, serious charges of corruption and irregularities against Raje along with chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have been proved and so they had lost their rights to hold the post. “Despite this the BJP leadership is protecting them…This shows the BJP government at the Centre has given relaxation to party leaders,” he said.