JAIPUR: Things are getting worse for Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot as the spontaneous and vociferous public protests against his recent three-day feedback programme ran into prove.
The programme was primarily aimed at improving the image of the Congress government in the state, and included Gehlot, his Cabinet ministers and a legion of senior administrative officers on a three-day tour of the state’s far-flung areas to gather feedback on the government’s flagship schemes.
The idea was to experience the mood of the masses before the Assembly elections scheduled by the end of 2013. The administration pulled out all the stops: officials extended the benefits of the schemes to the people at several places hours before Gehlot’s visit. Cheques were distributed, houses for BPL families constructed in a jiffy and crowds assigned to applaud kept stationed in these villages.
All these arrangements collapsed in the face of the spontaneous protests that the chief minister’s cavalcade ran into almost everywhere it went. Farmers staged demonstrations, women intercepted the cavalcade to air their grievances and people shouted slogans when Gehlot and other Cabinet ministers tried to address them.
“The tours had been proposed to publicise the ruling party’s flagship programmes and welfare schemes like the Rajasthan Janani Shishu Suraksha Yojana, Mukhya Mantri Gramin BPL Awas Yojana, free generic medicines schemes, Rajasthan Guaranteed Delivery of Public Services Act-2011, among others,” a senior Congress leader in the state said. Gehlot, accompanied by Congress state president Dr Chandrabhan Singh and ministers, went to rural areas of several districts, including Jaipur, Jalore, Dausa, Karauli and Sawaimadhopur.
Gehlot did put up a brave face, saying: “I have received positive feedback from the people.” The chief minister’s brush with reality was summed up by BJP’s Rajasthan unit president, Arun Chaturvedi. “The Congress must have realized by now the growing dissatisfaction among the common man in the state,” he said.