PM unveils nationwide yatra topromote central schemes | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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PM unveils nationwide yatra topromote central schemes

Nov 16, 2023 06:38 AM IST

The launch took place on the birth anniversary of Birsa Munda and comes ahead of the Lok Sabha elections next year, for which the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Centre is pulling out all stops to ensure the saturation of all welfare schemes and a concerted awareness campaign about its achievements.

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday flagged off the Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra, a nationwide programme to reach out to citizens with the Centre’s welfare programmes, at Jharkhand’s Khunti district and said, “Under the campaign, the government aims to visit each village of the country and ensure that all the beneficiaries get their due.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi pays tribute to the statue of freedom fighter Birsa Munda on his birth anniversary which is celebrated as Janjatiya Gaurav Diwas, at Birsa Munda Museum in Khunti on Wednesday (ANI)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi pays tribute to the statue of freedom fighter Birsa Munda on his birth anniversary which is celebrated as Janjatiya Gaurav Diwas, at Birsa Munda Museum in Khunti on Wednesday (ANI)

The PM, who arrived in the state on Tuesday evening for a two-day visit, flagged off five specifically designed IEC (Information, Education and Communication) vans from the district as part of the more than two-month-long yatra that will culminate on January 25, 2024. Similar vans were flagged off from other districts across the country.

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The launch took place on the birth anniversary of Birsa Munda and comes ahead of the Lok Sabha elections next year, for which the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Centre is pulling out all stops to ensure the saturation of all welfare schemes and a concerted awareness campaign about its achievements.

Modi recalled organising the Gram Swaraj Abhiyan in 2018 where 1,000 government officers were sent to the villages to create awareness about seven prime government schemes and expressed confidence that the Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra will become equally successful. “I look forward to the day when every poor will have a ration card for free raion, gas connection from Ujjwala scheme, electricity supplied to the homes, tapped water connection, Ayushman card and pucca house,” he said.

The launch was attended by several politicians, including Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren.

According to the government, the yatra will cover 270,000 gram panchayats and around 15,000 urban locations across the country.

The yatra, however, will not cover the five poll-bound states of Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Mizoram and Madhya Pradesh, and the Tapi constituency of Nagaland, where the model code of conduct is in force. The results for elections in all the states will be announced on December 3.

According to people aware of the details, the aim of the yatra is two pronged – last mile delivery of schemes to ensure no beneficiaries are left out and an aggressive push to blunt the Opposition’s accusations on the government’s alleged failure to steer the economy, tame inflation and provide jobs.

Social welfare schemes for various groups, including, women, youngsters and the socially and economically-deprived castes, will be the mainstay of the campaign, party functionaries said.

“Since the party came to power in 2014, the focus has been on providing basic amenities that people were deprived of for 70 years. When the Prime Minister spoke about toilets, the Opposition mocked him. Today, sanitation, toilets, cooking gas and a pucca house is what people in rural areas are thanking the government for,” said a senior party leader, seeking anonymity.

Schemes such as the PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana that offers free foodgrains, PM Awas Yojana that provides subsidised housing for the rural poor and the Har Ghar Jal Yojana to ensure tap water connections in every rural household have created a “dedicated vote bank” of labarthis or beneficiaries for the BJP, the leader added.

“The government has taken policy decisions that have improved the quality of life of those who have been socially, economically and educationally backward, and also been particular in ensuring the delivery of benefits to those who are eligible,” the leader said.

The yatra will focus on reaching out to the people, and creating awareness and providing benefits of welfare schemes such as sanitation facilities, essential financial services, electricity connections, access to LPG cylinders, housing for the poor, food security, proper nutrition, reliable health care and clean drinking water, said people aware of developments.

Specific concerns of tribal areas such as sickle cell anaemia elimination mission, enrolment in eklavya model residential schools, scholarship schemes, forest right titles, individual and community land ; van dhan vikas kendra and organising self help groups are also being addressed, said the people quoted above.

The IEC vans are branded and customised to enable dissemination of information through audio visual media, brochures, pamphlets, booklets and flagship standees in Hindi and state languages. Various Jan Bhagidari (people’s participation) events such as experience sharing by beneficiaries, interaction with farmers, celebration of achievements of gram panchayats achieving 100% saturation of schemes such as Ayushman card, Jal Jeevan Mission, Jan Dhan Yojana, PM Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana, ODF Plus status, on-the-spot quiz competitions, drone demonstration and health camps will be done, the people cited in the first instance added.

The BJP is also making efforts to ensure the yatra reaches Opposition-ruled states. A second party functionary, from West Bengal, said preparations are underway to allow the yatra in the Trinamool Congress (TMC)-led state.

“People in the state need to see for themselves how the (central) government has taken initiatives for the empowerment of the poor. In Bengal, the state government doesn’t want central schemes to reach the people. They tried to stop farmers from getting the benefits of the Kisan Samman Nidhi...people here have a right to know,” the second leader said.

Reacting to the statement, TMC West Bengal vice president Jay Prakash Majumdar said: “Modi treats central funds as his own funds and not as contribution of tax payers under a federal structure. He suspended central funds for housing schemes for the poor under PMAY and employment under MNREGA two years after TMC defeated BJP in state polls...” According to people aware of the matter, the Centre did not consult states over the conduct of the yatra.

The Centre did not consult states over the conduct of the yatra. Ministry of information and broadcasting secretary Apurva Chandra had earlier said that if states, especially those ruled by opposition parties, refuse to allow the yatra, the government would rely on central agencies and its officers in the states to spread the message.

Since the yatra was announced, it has drawn significant criticism from opposition parties: first, for its timing around the assembly elections in five states, and second, for the initial use of the word “rath prabharis” to describe nodal officers who will lead the effort in each district.

The Election Commission later stepped in, and said the yatra will not cover the five-poll bound states.

The idea to spread information about the government’s different schemes was first discussed in passing at the Conference of Chief Secretaries held in Dharamshala in June 2022. However, work on the yatra began only in early October this year, said Chandra.

Unveiling 'Elections 2024: The Big Picture', a fresh segment in HT's talk show 'The Interview with Kumkum Chadha', where leaders across the political spectrum discuss the upcoming general elections. Watch Now!

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