MP chief minister’s phantom promises
Posted October 26, 2009on:
Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan has carried out one more “revolution” — if delivering longwinded speeches and making phantom promises amount to a revolution. This time it was about the maids (bais) who eke out their living by providing domestic help in two, three or more households. This was the twenty-first “Panchayat’ convened by Chauhan at the chief minister’s official residence.
Chauhan ordained at the outset that a bai would no more be called bai, but only ‘behen’ if she was younger in age or ‘didi’ if she was older. The bais will be issued photo identity cards and the government will spend up to Rs 20,000 on treatment of a bai if she falls ill; this facility will be extended to her husband, son, daughter, mother-in-laws, father-in-law and widowed or deserted daughter also.
The other promises made by the chief minister to help the lot of the bais include free textbooks to their children up to the 12th class, in addition to monthly cash payment to the children. A bai will be entitled to 45 days’ maternity leave and the government will pay her wages during this period. Besides, her husband will be entitled to 15 days’ paternity leave and the government will pay his wages also. The bai will be paid Rs 1000 in cash for nutritious diet during maternity.
The bais will be insured against death or accident; they will be provided part time vocational training and will be given a stipend during the training period; a pension scheme will be considered for them; and those who have not yet been issued BPL (below the poverty line) cards will be provided the BPL cards with all the facilities that go with the card.
If you think Chauhan is partial to the bais, you are mistaken. He has already made similar promises to various other sections of the society. Addressing the agricultural labourers’ Panchayat on September 20, 2007, the chief minister announced six week’s maternity leave to women and two seeks’ paternity leave to men working as agricultural labourers (their wages to be paid by the government). In addition, the children of the agricultural labourers to be provided financial help up to the post-graduate level and insurance, at the government cost, for all the estimated 30 lakh agricultural labourers. Financial help up to Rs 20,000 for treatment of an agricultural labourer, provision of insurance for them and also financial help for cremation if an agricultural labourer or his/her dependent dies.
Three months earlier, the chief minister had “improved” the lot of the kotwars by promising them land, new cycles, new bright uniform comprising khadi polyester kurta, paijama and cap every year and the most important: no kotwar will be prosecuted before an investigation has been conducted.
The same month Chauhan brought out an “industrial revolution” in the small sector: international markets will be made available to the small scale sector for its products; a most up-to-date, world-class convention centre will be set up; problems of the industrialists will be solved within fixed time; infrastructure for the district industry centres will be strengthened and modernised; provisions of the single window system (?) will be rationalised; the provisions of stamp duty and property tax in the neighbouring States will be studied and reviewed with a view to making the industries in Madhya Pradesh competitive; and labour laws will be reviewed and revised to help the small scale industries.
In April 2008, the chief minister had paid attention to the disabled and promised the disabled Panchayat that his government intended to take new initiatives for the education and economic and social rehabilitation of the disabled. Two months later he announced 11 schemes for the poor belonging to the general category. In August of the same year, Chauhan told the fishermen’s Panchayat that the government intended to use the modern techniques for increasing fish production and promised to do everything to improve their lot. If a fisherman falls ill, the government would spend on his treatment Rs 30,000 —- even more if necessary.
He started with the Mahila Panchayat held on July 30,2006 where his promises included special budget provisions for the women on the pattern of the special plans for the tribals and the dalits; Mahila desks in the police stations with the appointment of women police personnel to register the complaints of women; the government will arrange advocates for women victims to contest their cases in courts and special efforts will be made to ensure speedy punishment to those accused of crimes against women (National Commission for Women chairperson Girija Vyas is making unnecessary noise that the State government is not sensitive to the plight of the women as the incidents of rape and other atrocities on women in Madhya Pradesh have been on the rise in the past few years).
A month later Chauhan convened a kisan Panchayat where he made as many as 35 promises. If the farmers of the State are still feeling restive (at a function later they had even mobbed Chauhan for not fulfilling his promises), it is only too bad. In fact, there is a whole lot of people who accuse Chauhan of not delivering. But he is at least showing his intention through his multitudinous promises. How many other chief ministers can make that claim?