JAIPUR: Call it political pressure, or reiteration of his loyalty to the most famous political dynasty he has served so long. Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot announced new development schemes, christening them all after Gandhi members.
Gehlot, who so pleaded on Wednesday that he was the chief minister of Rajasthan ‘not by default but by sheer people’s will,’ took the budget route to reinforce his loyalty at a critical political juncture when suggestions float that he could be called to Delhi, leaving the state to younger leaders of his party.
Gehlot had served in the Union cabinet under Rajiv Gandhi.
And, in the first budget of his third tenure, he rolled out three schemes named after Gandhi’s to serve farmers, youth and women.
While two are new schemes, the third is a BJP programme which has been re-invented.
Former chief minister and senior BJP leader Vasundhara Raje Scindia’s ‘Jal Swavlamban Yojana’ has been renamed the ‘Rajiv Gandhi Jal Sanchaya Scheme’ and is designed to conserve water, revive old water resources, create new ones and encourage plantations.
A new program is the ‘Indira Gandhi Mahila Shakti Nidhi Yojana’ to impart education and skill development training to women and encourage their own businesses.
The Nehru Bal Sahitya Academy launched after Jawaharlal Nehru is for youth and kids. “This scheme is a riposte to BJP, which has been calling the Nehruvian era and policies into question,” said a Gehlot aide.
In fact, the BJP has announced several programs to coincide with the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Gehlot, however, stole a march by announcing a Rs 50 crore Mahatma Gandhi Institute at Jaipur, a ‘Peace Centre’, a retreat after Sabarmati Ashram, besides a grand Gandhi Museum.
Gehlot’s pre-occupation with the Gandhi name was seen soon after he took power in the northern state when he hastily reverted the name of ‘Atal Seva Kendra’ to ‘Rajiv Gandhi Seva Kendra’ claiming he was ‘righting’ a ‘wrong.’
“His loyalty to Gandhi family and Mahatma as his political underpinning cannot be lost sight of. He believes they are symbolic of Indian values of peace and non-violence. But this time there is another reason — his ideological war with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh,” said a close associate of the CM.
What’s in a name?
In the first budget of his third tenure, Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot rolled out three schemes named after Gandhis to serve farmers, youth and women. While two are new schemes, the third is a BJP programme which has been renamed.