Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Sunday addressed what was touted as a “samvaad (interaction)” with village heads in Varanasi but left without interacting with them. At the state government’s outreach programme, Adityanath instead addressed an audience with around 800 pradhans (village heads) and extolled the central and his government’s schemes.
“For the first time, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a system has been put in place whereby villagers need not go to the government, instead the government will come to them. We went to villages under the Gram Swaraj Abhiyan and a lot of development work was done,” he said. He said the success of these schemes depended on awareness among the people.
“… the success of these schemes (depends on awareness) no matter how much the representatives (legislators) try and work,” he said. “That is why we have come to you … to say that for the first time pradhans have got strength… and I will keep saying this… there are many grampanchayats which get more money in a year than a legislator gets (for development work). If a village has a population of over 20,000, its village head will be allotted Rs 2 crore a year… He does not need to go anywhere else. A MLA gets only Rs 1.40 crore (for development work).”
Adityanath also asked the pradhans to hold sabhas and solve matters to reduce crime and conflict, ensure cleanliness and do away with “petty” politics at the village-level.
At the event he gave out cheques to village heads who had ensured their villages have become open defecation-free. However, by the end of the session, when Adityanath left the stage without interacting with the pradhans, many began raising their voice in protest.
Viren Sinha, pradhan of Sarai Mohana village said, “This was supposed to be a samvad where the CM was to hear our issues. But this turned to be one-sided speech. He held sambodhan (address), not a samvad. He did not bother listening to us.”
Ram Narayan Patel, pradhan from Mahgaon, said, “We have applied for funds for various works but the money has not been released for the past three months. All work across Varanasi is suspended. They keep coming to us and asking for support for 2019 Lok Sabha elections but who will vote for them when no work is being done? It is peak summer and I have not even been able to get a hand-pump fixed.”
Indravati Patel, another village head, said he couldn’t get any work done through the block development office. “Instead, I am always referred to the district office where, I have to bribe officials to get money or permission for work,” he said.
When contacted for comment, Mrityunjay Kumar, media adviser to the CM said: “Chief Minister interacted with people at the event. There is a set schedule of the Chief Minister and some might not have been able to reach him but that does not mean that their voice would not be heard. They can contact the concerned officers and all their grievances would be resolved.”
(With Inputs from ENS, Lucknow)