BJP’s bizarre models of development
Posted July 2, 2009on:
The BJP chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh have had bizarre notions of development of the State. The interesting thing is that one has not been able to appreciate the other’s view.
The most esoteric blueprint of development was prepared by Uma Bharati. Immediately after becoming the chief minister, she had constituted a high-powered State-level Panch-Ja committee, the five Js standing for Jana (people), Jameen (land), Jala (water), Jungle (forests) and Janvar (animals).
The five Js did have a populist appeal but neither Uma Bharati, nor any one else associated with her pet project, had been able to explain in concrete terms how they wanted to go about for redressing the travails of the tribals, the Dalits and other weaker sections (Jana) or what they wanted to do with the Jameen, or the Jala or the Jungle or the Janvar. All one had from Uma Bharati and others was some vague claptrap.
Lakshman Singh Gaud, a BJP MLA from Indore and a hard-core Hindutva adherent, was appointed the chairman of the Panch-Ja committee. He had explained the objectives of the Panch-Ja “campaign” as to make the villages “self-dependent” by ensuring “people’s participation”. Uma Bharati, who was supposed to know better, had stated that all departments would be asked to prepare “development programmes” on the basis of the Panch-Ja campaign. Neither Uma nor Gaud had a clear concept of the programmes they wanted to carry out.
Come Babulal Gaur and the Panch-Ja scheme all but goes into oblivion. Being proud of his Yadav ancestry, Gaur decided to develop the State on the pattern of Gokul, the village near Mathura, where Lord Krishna was supposed to have passed his boyhood with the cowherds. Under the Gokul Gram scheme, five villages would be selected in each district for development into model villages. The selection would be made by the District Collector in consultation with the minister in-charge and the people’s representatives of the area.
The scheme envisaged enrolment of children in the 5-14 age group into the school where safe drinking water and cleanliness was to be ensured. An environment club was to be set up in the school to encourage plantations in the area. Neo-literates would be associated with rural libraries.
Every individual in the village was to be medically examined every three months. The expectant mothers would be provided nutrition, immunization and hygienic care. Total immunization was to be provided to children of up to one year of age. Dais (mid-wives) were to be trained for safe delivery and attendance of staff at the sub health centres was to be ensured.
The scheme also promised adequate supply of water for nistar (common use), drinking and irrigation, as well as construction of a latrine in every home. Besides, measures would be taken to provide adequate electricity to the village by exploring the alternative sources of energy. Livestock, the backbone of the rural socio-economic life, had drawn special attention of Gaur. His Gokul Gram scheme promised proper arrangements for improving the breeds of cows as well as medical examination and treatment of the livestock in the Gokul Grams. In nutshell, most of the needs of the villagers were to be taken care of in the village itself. Once the first five villages selected in a district became sufficiently self-dependent, other villages would be taken up.
Shivraj Singh Chauhan, who succeeded Babulal Gaur, was not impressed either by Uma Bharati’s Panch-Ja or by Gaur’s Gokul Gram concept. He firmly believed that the State could be launched on to the path of rapid development only by arranging marriages of eligible girls of the poor families. Accordingly, he embarked on the project with a crusader’s zeal.
The district officials, including Collectors, Superintendents of Police, Chief Executive Officers of District Panchayats, the Health Officers, Anganwadi workers, et cetera, were asked to get actively involved in the hunt of the eligible girls and arranging their marriages. Almost the entire government gets engaged in such mass marriages during the marriage season. The chief minister would himself preside over a marriage function. He also deputed his cabinet colleagues to preside over such functions in their respective areas.
Since all his cabinet colleagues are not as devout as he, some of them treated the occasion like any other marriage ceremony, full of fun and frolic. A cabinet minister, who presided over a kanyadan function, found himself in the midst of an unsavoury controversy when the reports appeared in newspapers that the bedinis (girls from a tribe traditionally given to dancing) performed lewd dances at the marriage ceremony while the drunken audience made indecent gestures.
Misappropriation of different kinds of the kanyadan money was reported from several places. The government sanctions Rs 5000 per girl for purchase of the items to be given to the girl at the time of her marriage. The organisers of the mass marriage under the chief minister’s kanyadan scheme in Sidhi district decided to purchase jewellery for presenting to the girls. Later it was found that the jewellery thus purchased was made of imitation gold while the payment was shown as having been made for the pure gold. Complaints of other types of irregularities have also been reaching the headquarters.
Sunderlal Patwa had tried to solve the State’s problems in a different manner, though no less imaginative. The BJP, more particularly its youth wing Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), had vigorously been agitating, till the eighties, for inclusion of the right to work into the Constitution, and demanding that the government should pay to the eligible persons unemployment allowance if it was unable to provide jobs to them.
Shyama Charan Shukla became the chief minister in the late eighties. His government started paying unemployment allowance to the eligible youth, hoping that it would get the Congress party a majority in the 1990 Assembly elections. It did not. The BJP won hands down and Patwa became the chief minister. One of his first tasks was to discontinue the unemployment allowance scheme.
Patwa’s theory was that the problem of unemployment could not be solved by paying unemployment allowance, but only by providing employment. So he set in motion a scheme for providing “full employment”. He chose Raisen as the first district where his government wanted to provide employment to each and every eligible person by December 31,1990. Other districts were to be taken up one by one afterwards.
Patwa’s government was dismissed in December 1992, full two years after the expiry of the deadline. Till then, his scheme of providing full employment in Raisen district had not even taken off. Where was then the question of starting the scheme in the remaining 47 districts?