Whose Plan Is It, Anyway?
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