New Delhi, Apr 11 (PTI) The central government and the BJP will embark on a massive exercise from Dalit icon Bhimrao Ambedkar’s birth anniversary tomorrow to cover the backward and weaker sections of society under key welfare schemes of the Modi dispensation.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has dubbed it ‘gram swaraj abhiyan’.

He has asked BJP MPs, including Union ministers, to ensure that everyone in villages, where scheduled castes and scheduled tribes constitute more than 50 per cent of the population, is covered under the schemes aimed at providing LPG connection, vaccination for children, ‘Jan Dhan’ bank accounts and electricity for households among others.

There are 20,844 such villages across the country.

The drive, which will continue till May 5, will not cover West Bengal and Karnataka, where the Model Code of Conduct is in force in view of panchayat and assembly polls there.

BJP MPs have been asked to spend at least a night in one such village, while Union ministers will spend two nights in different parts of the country during the exercise.

They will also highlight the government’s works for the poor and farmers.

Modi at a meeting with his council of ministers on Wednesday had also stressed the need to execute these schemes, and the secretaries of the ministries concerned had made a presentation as well.

The drive is seen as an effort by the BJP-led government to reach out to the marginalised sections of society, including Dalits, in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls next year.

It assumes significance amid the opposition’s bid to project the government as ‘anti-Dalit’.

The BJP has been making a concerted bid to win over Dalits ahead of the general elections.

The party’s impressive run in elections has been attributed to its success in wooing Dalits and its leadership believes that the Opposition’s campaign against it is aimed at weaning them away.

Modi, in an audio conference call, had recently told the party’s lawmakers in state legislatures and Parliament that his government had been striving to realise the dreams of Mahamta Gandhi, Ambedkar and Phule of empowering villages.

The ‘Gram Swaraj’ exercise, which will continue till May 5, will be aimed at fulfilling the dreams of these stalwarts, he said, asking the party’s representatives to fan out in villages to ensure that people there get benefits of government schemes.

The prime minister spelled out several programmes during the period with April 18 being observed as ‘Swachh Bharat’ festival.

April 20, 24 and 28 will be observed as ‘Ujjwala Diwas’, ‘Panchayati Raj Diwas’ and ‘Gram Shakti Diwas’ respectively to highlight various government schemes, he said.

He said he will interact with BJP leaders on April 22 through a video conference.

April 30, May 2 and May 5 will be dedicated to highlighting various schemes aimed at benefiting farmers and the poor.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.