Inaugurating Chhattisgarh’s five-day Rajyostav to commemorate its 16th foundation day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday praised the Raman Singh government for making a “small state with a large tribal population” punch above its weight.
Modi said that his government’s primary goal is to wage a “war on poverty”, and this can only be achieved by creating opportunities, and not through handouts.
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The PM was taken around several spots in Naya Raipur, being built by the Raman Singh government as the planned capital of Chhattisgarh. He inaugurated the Ekatma Path, the central boulevard of the area of the new city; a statue of Deendayal Upadhyaya; and a jungle safari, touted by state government officials as Asia’s largest city-based safari.
Before addressing a rally, Modi also declared that two districts and 15 blocks of the state are open-defecation free. He announced the start of a programme to give solar pumps to farmers where irrigation through electricity has still proved difficult.
In a speech made conspicuous by the absence of any mention of Maoism, or of skirmishes on the Pakistan border, the Prime Minister said the country thanked former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee for peaceful creation of three states, including Chhattisgarh. He said the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre is attempting to push the agenda of “vikas” (development) forward, and that the primary goal is to eradicate poverty. “In our war on poverty, we cannot win by gifts, but by making opportunities for the poor to rise. If poverty doesn’t end, we can do several other things, but none of them will make any difference,” he said.
Citing Naya Raipur as an example of opportunity, Modi said that generations in the future will look back and see it as an example of what a small state with an adivasi population can achieve. Calling the jungle safari Raman Singh’s “pet project”, the Prime Minister said, “Tourism is an area where there is return on very little investment. When there is tourism, everyone in an ecosystem will earn — even the chaiwallah will earn.”
Modi said the government’s efforts to remove poverty have also made them look at the viability of agriculture, and building agricultural infrastructure that is oblivious to the vagaries of weather. “For the first time, farmers are getting the benefits of Pradhanmantri Suraksha Beema Yojana,” he said. He also said that he wants to push for “competitive cooperative federalism”, with states competing against each other to reach targets. “If one state does one thing well, another should say, ‘we will do the work better’,” he said.
Congress leaders and workers held a “jail bharo andolan” in every block of the state to protest against the Prime Minister’s visit and against human rights violations in Bastar, farmers not being given a paddy bonus, and the expenditure on the Rajyotsav. Pradesh Congress Committee chief Bhupesh Baghel and Leader of Opposition in the Assembly T S Singh Deo were among those who courted arrest along with thousands of local leaders and members.