Amid pared-down celebrations of the 74th Independence Day considering Covid-19 safety protocols, Chief Ministers and Lieutenant Governors on Saturday listed out efforts taken by their administrations towards public welfare, and highlighted key concerns at low-key events. The Indian Express takes a look at states and Union territories.
Jammu and Kashmir: In his first Independence Day address at Srinagar, newly-appointed Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha highlighted five key priorities for his administration. After unfurling the tricolour at the Sher-e-Kashmir Stadium, Sinha said that “equality and justice are being gradually restored to Jammu and Kashmir”. Invoking former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s slogan of ‘Insaniyat, Jamhuriyat, Kashmiriyat’, Sinha lamented that while humanity kept losing to terrorism over decades in Kashmir, jamhuriyat was enveloped in greed and Kashmiriyat succumbed to hatred that emanated from this”. “We want to change this narrative once again. We want to make development, peace, progress and social harmony the mainstay of the Kashmir narrative,” Sinha said.
Speaking on the revocation of J&K special status on August 5, 2019, the LG said that after the constitutional changes of 2019, the Centre, within the first 30 days, took more than 50 big decisions that “will shift the picture in Kashmir”. “A new journey has also started, and to reach the culmination of this journey, the government has set five main goals,” Sinha said, listing out the aim to put in place a just and transparent system of governance, a thriving grassroots level democracy, maximizing the reach of government welfare schemes; accelerating economic development and creation of employment.
Rajasthan: Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot hoisted the Tricolour at several places, including at Badi Chaupar, his residence, the state secretariat, and at Sawai Man Singh Stadium (SMS), where he inspected the Guard of Honour. “When the country got Independence, it did not have basic facilities such as electricity, water, roads, health and education. But with his foresightedness, [first Prime Minister of India] Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru laid the foundation to make the country atmanirbhar (self-reliant). He had huge dams constructed and factories established to speed up industrial development. He also established top institutions such as AIIMS, ISRO, IIT,” Gehlot said during the state function at SMS, adding that “we have to give a befitting reply to powers spreading hate in the name of religion and caste, so that peace and harmony continues in the country”.
Maharashtra: The Maharashtra government has made around 29.50 lakh farmers in the state debt-free by depositing Rs 18,980 crore into their bank accounts, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said after hoisting the national flag at Mantralaya in south Mumbai. He also said that the government will focus on farmers and the working class as it tries to transform Maharashtra into a welfare state. Stating that the government has started the process of unlocking the state “cautiously in a staggered manner”, Thackeray also noted that Maharashtra has increased Covid-19 tests on a “big scale”. He said the government also procured 418.8 quintal cotton, highest in the last 10 years. The Chief Minister observed that schools could not be reopened in the state but the government took steps to see education is being imparted to students through Google Classroom initiative. “Maharashtra has become the first state to take such a step in the country,” he added. Thackeray said that around 66,300 industrial units have resumed operations after the government set in motion the process of unlocking. He said more than 16 lakh workers have returned to their workplaces.
Uttar Pradesh: Hoisting the Tricolour at Vidhan Bhavan in Lucknow, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath remembered Mahatma Gandhi and other freedom fighters and lauded health workers and security personnel for their work during the coronavirus pandemic. Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya also attended the event. Adityanath also remembered soldiers who lost their lives while defending the country and urged people to understand the importance of independence. “It is our responsibility to make India clean by 2022 when we will celebrate 75 years of independence. Uttar Pradesh can also play a major and important role in ‘Ek Bharat, Shresth Bharat’,” he said. The national flag fluttered atop several buildings in the state capital but most streets wore a deserted look and the revelry was missing.
Madhya Pradesh: Addressing a function after unfurling the national flag at the Motilal Nehru Stadium in Bhopal, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said that preference will be given to local youths for government jobs in the state. He also said that his government was preparing a single citizenship database so that people of the state do not have to register for each scheme separately. “We will put in place such a mechanism that will ensure employment to local youths on the basis of their mark-sheets of Class 10 and 12,” he said. Chouhan reiterated that the state government will strongly fight the case in the court in favour of increasing the OBC quota from 14 per cent to 27 per cent.
West Bengal: Observe “freedom at midnight” by hoisting Tricolour in the same spirit as in the past by strictly following Covid protocols, said Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as she asserted the country has overcome many challenges and asked people to do all it takes to preserve the basic principles on which this country was founded. With celebrations subdued due to Covid, Banerjee unfurled the national flag and inspected guard of honour at the main function held on Red Road in Kolkata. Only a few ministers and government officials were present on the occasion. She felicitated 25 frontline workers who recovered from Covid-19 and rejoined duty. A song composed by Banerjee — ‘Corona chole jabe ekdin, Covid joddhader mone rekho’ (coronavirus will be defeated one day, but remember the COVID-19 warriors) — was played in the background during the felicitation. Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, who paid a visit to Gandhi Ghat in Barrackpore to pay tributes to Mahatma Gandhi, called for ensuring that democratic values “are not compromised” and shunning of political violence. The Tricolour was hoisted at different community clubs, offices of political parties and organisations without any gathering.
Andhra Pradesh: After hoisting the national flag at the municipal grounds in Vijayawada, Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy asserted that the wounds of the state’s bifurcation had prompted his decision for decentralised development with the three capital concept so that “fruits of development are evenly spread over all regions”. Reiterating the demand for Special Category Status (SCS), Reddy said that vested interests were opposed to the idea of children of the weaker sections studying in English medium schools. While the average illiteracy rate is 33 percent, it is 36 per cent in SCs and 51.2 percent in STs, which is a matter of concern, he said.
The CM said that the state is implementing several schemes to uplift the weaker sections in an unprecedented manner despite financial constraints.
Telangana: Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao hoisted the Tricolour at his office-cum-residence in Hyderabad. TRS Parliamentary Party leader Dr K Keshav Rao, Government’s Chief Advisor Rajiv Sharma, Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar and DGP M Mahender Reddy attended the programme.
Goa: Promising fresh measures to make villages self-sufficient and to make governance more accessible, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant spoke on setting up of Citizen Service Centres at village jurisdiction in his speech. “Policy makers should visit villages. From October 2, we will have a team of policy makers reaching out to all the 192 village panchayats and 13 municipalities. They will together plan appropriate policies for the development,” he said.
Unfurling the Tricolour at the Old Secretariat, Sawant also said the next few months will decide the way forward for the state, already crippled with long debts. In his address, Governor Satyapal Malik too tried to instill hope as he appealed to Goans to take more traditional occupations like agriculture and fishing. “Covid has shown us there is an urgent need for revival of agriculture. It was the main occupation in the past,” he said.
Tripura: Unfurling the Tricolour at the Assam Rifles Ground in Agartala, Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb said the state government has decided to set up another medical college at Dhalai district amid the pandemic. He presented medals and gallantry awards to police personnel and lauded doctors, security personnel, media and other frontline workers for their efforts against the pandemic. Deb said Tripura has no dearth of medicines or PPE kits to tackle the outbreak.
Pointing to other development projects, the CM said the 15-km Agartala-Akhaura railway project is in an advanced stage with Rs 3,193 crore allocated by the Centre. He also said survey work is in the pipeline to test feasibility of a second Indo-Bangla railway line connecting Belonia in South Tripura and Dharmanagar.
Mizoram: Parade contingents and students did not participate in the function at the Assam Rifles Ground in Aizawl, where a short ceremony was held. Urging people to follow precautions and advisories amid the pandemic, Chief Minister Zoramthanga said people of the state have also faced difficulties due to frequent earthquakes, heavy rainfall, landslides and floods. A series of earthquakes had rocked eastern areas bordering Myanmar since June 21, causing extensive damage in Champhai district. The Chief Minister said the state and Central governments are striving to ease their hardships. He also hailed the police for the law and order situation in the state and efforts against the pandemic.
Uttarakhand: After unfurling the national flag in Dehradun, Chief Minister Trivendra Singh visited the summer capital of Gairsain and said an infrastructure development plan is being worked out for the town and announced 12 projects worth Rs 76 crore, including a mini-secretariat and a 50-bed sub-district hospital with tele-medicine facility. In Dehradun, he claimed that his government has fulfilled 85 per cent of the promises made to the people of the state in 2017. The CM said the entire country was fighting against Covid under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose timely decisions resulted in the pandemic being under control.
Odisha: Independence Day celebrations were held across the state without any large gathering, parade or march, and with strict adherence to social distancing and safety norms. Unfurling the Tricolour at the Exhibition Ground in Bhubaneswar, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik paid tribute to those combating the pandemic. “We have taken concrete measures to provide all healthcare facilities free of cost. No person will be deprived of treatment due to lack of money,” he said, adding that his government has set up dedicated Covid-19 hospitals in multiple districts, besides starting plasma therapy and opening plasma banks. “Odisha has attracted investment proposals to the tune of Rs 12,000 crore which is 18 per cent of the total investment received in the country during the period. We have emerged as the top state in the country in terms of getting investment, even ahead of Maharashtra,” he said.
Bihar: Addressing the Independence Day celebrations at Patna’s Gandhi Maidan, for the last time before he seeks re-election for the fourth consecutive term, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar Saturday appeared to be in election mode as he listed out his government’s achievements. He announced that teachers of schools run by panchayats and local civic bodies will soon get benefits of service rules and employees’ provident fund. “The new generation has been tweeting anything but most of them need to know that Bihar neither had roads nor electricity before 2005. People of Bihar should check facts and draw comparisons,” he said, taking a dig at the Opposition. He reiterated his commitment to social harmony in his “zero-tolerance policy” against crime, corruption and communalism.
-With PTI inputs
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