NEW DELHI: Determined to shed the tag of being an urban-centric government, which ignores the concerns of rural India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is all set to fan out across the country with his rural rallies to capture the “heartlands”.
In order to make it a success, key ministries, under the guidance of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), are literally burning the midnight oil to “rebrand” the government with new “farmer friendly” schemes that will “connect Bharat and India”.
Modi Sets Out to Capture Bharat
Key Central ministries, under the guidance of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), are burning the midnight oil to “rebrand” the government with new “farmer friendly” schemes that will “connect Bharat and India”.
The major ministries in the 11-member team, constituted by the PMO, include Finance, Rural Development, Agriculture and Health. The first meeting of this group is likely to take place on February 7. The PMO has told the social sector ministries to conceive schemes, get approval of the Finance Ministry and send a proposal to the Cabinet at the earliest so that the PM can directly announce the schemes during his rural rallies.
PM’s rural rallies in Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh are being slated towards the latter half of this month. He is also planning to hold more in the coming months as it is important to “counter the anti-farmer image’’ being perpetuated by the Opposition, especially that of Congress scion Rahul Gandhi, said a source.
“We are working against short deadlines. The task assigned is huge,’’ an official with Rural Development Ministry told The Sunday Standard. According to him, the PMO is very particular that the schemes should be conceived in a way “to connect Bharat and India”.
The PMO is learnt to have told the social sector ministries to come up with the schemes that will catch the fancy of the rural hearts. “We have been categorically told that it should catch eyeballs. But at the same time, it should really connect too,’’ said the official explaining the task assigned. The team of ministries is learnt to have already conceived schemes on rural housing, infrastructure development, diary sector, rurban amenities, skill development hubs in villages, enhanced electric and water connectivity along with stronger internet connectivity.
The government may also rebrand existing schemes like Indira Awas Yojana by hiking the allocation for construction of houses. Major changes in MGNREGA are also being thought about. There are also plans to boost irrigation facilities and to make the recently crop insurance scheme more attractive to farmers.
According to a source outside the government, who is giving political inputs to these schemes, the PM is keen to differentiate between the rural schemes of his government and that of the previous government.
“The rural schemes of the Modi Government will connect both India and Bharat while the Congress schemes segregated both,’’ he said.
According to him, the government is quite conscious of the fact that it is important to attend to the concerns of the 75 per cent of the population who live in rural India. .
Sources say that the PM is quite worried about the allegations of being anti-farmer consistently raised by the Congress. That the party lost its grip in rural Gujarat in the recent local body polls has also been taken seriously by the leadership. It was in this context that PM’s rural rallies are being planned. “PM’s rallies coupled with these strong and vibrant schemes will create a new wave in rural heartlands,’’ said this economist-turned-politician.
The Focus Areas
■ Skill development hubs in villages
■ Housing for all
■ Infrastructure development
■ Increased diary production
■ Rurban amenities
■ Enhanced electric and water
■ Stronger internet connectivity