New Delhi, Mar 3: Rejecting the opposition charge that his government is pro-corporate, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today listed a number schemes like Jandhan Yojana, Swachh Bharat, soil health card, housing-for-all and asked whether such programmes would benefit the rich or the poor.
In an hour-long reply to the debate on Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address in Rajya Sabha, Modi said the poor in the country are craving for quality of life and that he speaks for them.
Countering the opposition charge that his government was pro-corporate, he listed a number of schemes initiated for the poor and said the government is moving towards serving the “last man in the row — daridra narayan (seeing God in the poor)”.
“Is the Swachchata Abhiyan for the corporates? The slum-dwellers are yearning for quality of life. I talk of those poor when I talk about Swachchata. Is the Jan Dhan Yojana meant for the corporates? This is neither for the rich nor for the corporates.
“When I talk about toilets in government schools, what does it have to do with the rich and the corporates? It is for the poor, whose children go to government schools. “When I talk of issuing soil health cards, is it working for the rich and the corporates? Will this money go in their accounts?
“Is our Housing for all scheme meant for making houses for the rich or the poor,” he asked. Referring to the decision to auction coal blocks, he said the revenues will benefit the states which have the rich reserves but are still poor.
During the UPA regime, the Prime Minister said more than 350 proposals were held up for long time because of disputes between the different departments. In many cases, railways would not approve a proposal of the highways and vice versa, he said, adding this situation has been changed and projects are cleared within a timeline of 60 days.
Giving data to support his assertion on development, Modi said during UPA per day 7.4 kms of highways were awarded and 5.2 km per day achieved. “In nine months of NDA regime, the figure is 18 kms per day awarded and 10.1 km achieved,” he said. Taking a dig at Congress for saying ‘nothing is visible on the ground’, Modi said the opposition party is “intoxified” because of remaining in power for long and it prevents them from seeing what happens on the ground.
“If we stay connected with the ground, we will get to know what is happening,” the Prime Minister said, decrying those who speak on the basis of perceptions rather than reality. He said there was a time when BJP was called a party of the hindi belt but now it represents in Lok Sabha, Ladakh in the north to Kanyakumari in south and Kutch in west to Arunachal Pradesh in the east. “We have run goverments in southern states also,” he said.
Referring to his own OBC status, Modi said that some people who called BJP a party of the upper castes must have changed their minds after seeing him. He said that states with tribal populations like Chhatisgarh, Jharkhand etc.
He said BJP had got clear majority in a state like Goa where Christians have a decisive vote and formed government in Jammu and Kashmir where muslims have decisive vote.
Modi then talked about the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana, a scheme where MPs take lead in developing villages and went on to praise efforts of veteran Congress leader Motilal Vora for his “superlative” work. He also praised the work done by along with that of Kamakhya Prasad and Civil Aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju under the scheme.
The Prime Minister said he had the courage to admit and had done it so earlier that all previous governments had made contribution towards the development of the country. He then went on to say that several of the schemes initiated by the UPA government like Aadhar card, National Food Security Act, Nirmal bharat, Right to Information, National Rural Livelihood Mission and others were in existence during the UPA regime in some other name.
His contention that MGNREGA too existed as ‘Sampoorn Gramin Rozgar Yojana’ evoked loud protests from the Congress benches with some of them shouting that he was not speaking the truth.
Modi also said he felt that digital divide is a reason for backwardness and wanted to move towards mobile governance, from the poor should benefit. At one jucture as Modi spoke on measures to uplift the weaker sections, BSP chief Mayawati got up and wanted to know if the government would extend reservations to the private sector.