The opposition Congress on Thursday hit out at the Vasundhara Raje government for renaming Rajiv Gandhi Seva Kendras as Atal Seva Kendras after former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
On a day the Centre announced Bharat Ratna for Vajpayee, the Rajasthan government issued an order on Wednesday to rename seva kendras, launched by the UPA government in 2009, to “honour” the veteran leader.
State Congress president Sachin Pilot condemned the Raje government’s decision as “petty politics” and “an act of vendetta”. He said Rajiv Gandhi also was a former prime minister and a Bharat Ratna recipient. “If the BJP wanted to name something after Vajpayee then they should have started something or created new infrastructure for it,” Pilot said.
State Congress spokesperson Pratap Singh Khachariyawas said that renaming the seva kendras showed the narrow mindset of BJP. On the one hand, he said, the BJP was conferring Bharat Ratna on Vajpayee, on the other it was creating controversy on his name. “BJP will face repercussions of the decision. The party cannot think of something of their own, so by renaming it they are trying to encash on our projects,” he said.
The BJP government, however, defended the decision. When asked about the reason for renaming the seva kendras, panchayati raj minister Surrender Goyal said the step was taken to honour Vajpayee. “The government of India is awarding him with Bharat Ratna, so we decided to name the facility after him,” Goyal said.
State BJP president Ashok Parnami said though the kendras were started by the Congress, these were lying closed and vacant. “No services or facilities were provided through it and the buildings were in a dilapidated condition. It was our chief minister Vasundhara Raje who looked into the issue and provided computers and other infrastructure so that people could be benefitted,” he said.
“Congress launched this scheme after Rajiv Gandhi, and they should have run it properly but they turned the building into garbage homes. Now we will r properly utilise the kendras in the name of Atal,” added Parnami.
During the previous Congress government, seva kendras were constructed in all the gram panchayats, which are around 9,000. These centres were started to provide basic facilities to people in rural areas from NREGA registration to bill payments and providing benefits of government schemes.
Earlier, at a public meeting in Jodhpur’s Kankani village on December 21, Raje had announced to open Atal Seva Kendra in panchayats after the former PM’s name.