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UP to skip,doubts Bundelkhand meet motive

Called in the backdrop of Rahul’s appeals to PM,Orchha meet to discuss development of the region through NREGS....

Written by Maulshree Seth | Lucknow |
October 13, 2009 3:08:56 am

The Uttar Pradesh government has decided to boycott a high-level meeting called by the Centre on Tuesday to discuss the development of Bundelkhand through the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS).

Apart from Union Minister of State for Rural Development Pradeep Jain,the meeting — to be held in Orchha,in the Madhya Pradesh part of Bundelkhand — will be attended by Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister T K Nair and five secretaries of various Central ministries. However,Uttar Pradesh has decided to stay away,questioning the Centre’s “intentions”.

“We are not against anyone,” says Uttar Pradesh Minister of Rural Development Daddu Prasad. “It is just that the intentions of the Central Government are not clear regarding Bundelkhand. It is difficult to sail with the boatman who does not tell his people about the direction in which he is heading. Moreover,if they were so serious about Bundelkhand,they should have discussed the dates with us in advance.”

Prasad also claimed that it was difficult for Uttar Pradesh to send a representative as there is a Cabinet meeting scheduled on Tuesday.

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Bundelkhand has been a bone of contention between the Centre and the Mayawati government,with both accusing each other for the region’s backwardness. Rahul Gandhi’s visits to Bundelkhand hadn’t gone down well with the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister.

The meeting by the Centre also comes in the backdrop of Rahul’s petition to the Prime Minister for a special package for the region. The meeting will discuss “Inter-sectoral convergence with NREGS for enhancing productivity in Bundelkhand districts”.

Since Bundelkhand is spread across Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh,the chief secretaries of the two states along with the Development Commissioner of Madhya Pradesh and the Uttar Pradesh Principal Secretary of Rural Development were invited.

A senior official said the idea behind bringing together such senior officers was ensuring that schemes of various departments were synchronised to bring development in the region through NREGS funds.

However,following instructions reportedly from Mayawati’s office,state officials will not attend. Officials from Madhya Pradesh will be coming.

While the meeting was originally scheduled at Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh,a code of conduct came into place after announcement of by-elections and the venue was changed to Orchha. Uttar Pradesh has seen red at this too,saying “the political motive behind the meeting” was clear as Orchha is hardly 15 km from Jhansi.

Incidentally MoS Pradeep Jain belongs to Jhansi and his reputation is at stake in the coming by-election,which was necessitated as he resigned from the Assembly after winning a seat to the Lok Sabha. Jain denies this.

Besides Jain and Nair,those who will attend include Sudha Pillai,Secretary in the Planning Commission; Rita Sharma,Secretary in the Rural Development Ministry; Nand Kumar,Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture; Umesh Narayan Panjiyar,Secretary in the Ministry of Water Resources; Rita Sinha,Secretary in the Department of Land Resources; and Vijay Sharma,Secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

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