Whose Plan Is It, Any­way?

India Today - - UPFRONT - —Kaushik Deka

The Naren­dra Modi gov­ern­ment in­tends to mark 70 years of In­dian in­de­pen­dence by show­cas­ing 70 gov­ern­ment schemes. Most of the 70 poli­cies se­lected were ef­fected in the years the BJP was in power. Among the ma­jor gov­ern­ment pro­grammes omit­ted, say sources, are the Ma­hatma Gandhi Na­tional Ru­ral Em­ploy­ment Guar­an­tee Act (MGNREGA) and Aad­haar, both of which were launched by the Man­mo­han Singh-led UPA gov­ern­ment.

Modi had crit­i­cised both schemes when he was Gu­jarat chief min­is­ter, but has per­sisted with them since be­com­ing prime min­is­ter in 2014. Pre­dictably, NDA pet projects such as the Swachh Bharat Ab­hiyan, Make in In­dia, Startup In­dia, Skill In­dia and the Jan Dhan Yo­jana, among oth­ers, make the cut. Newspaper re­ports sug­gest even ‘Bharat­mala’, a yet to be launched project that aims to con­nect re­mote coastal and bor­der ar­eas, pil­grim­age sites and district head­quar­ters through 51,000 kilo­me­tres of roads and na­tional high­ways.

Op­po­si­tion politi­cians ac­cuse the BJP of try­ing to erase the con­tri­bu­tions of other par­ties. “The gov­ern­ment,” says Congress spokesper­son Ran­deep Singh Sur­je­w­ala, “wants to re­write the coun­try’s his­tory, as if there was no In­dia be­fore Modi came to power.” On June 15, Congress Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor tweeted that 23 ‘new’ gov­ern­ment pro­grammes were re­heated UPA ones. Factchecker.in, a web site de­voted to, well, check­ing facts, an­a­lysed Tharoor’s claim and con­cluded 19 of the 23 pro­grammes were UPA ones un­der new names. These in­clude some of the most highly touted of Modi’s schemes.

But Sub­hash Sharma, di­rec­tor of Chandigarh-based think tank Centre for Eco­nomic Pol­icy Re­search, says ac­cu­sa­tions of repack­ag­ing are un­fair. “Modi has given these poli­cies new life. Be­fore Jan Dhan Yo­jana, how many bank ac­counts had been opened for the poor? Now there are 3 mil­lion.” Jayant Sinha, MoS for civil aviation, says the gov­ern­ment has “no time for ster­ile de­bates over which pro­gramme was de­signed by which gov­ern­ment. What mat­ters is de­liv­er­ing tan­gi­ble re­sults.”

GRAND SCHEMES ONLY

I-Day ad­dress by Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi last year

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