After launching his Clean India Mission on Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary, and his 'Make in India' initiative on Deen Dayal Upadhaya’s birthday, Narendra Modi is now planning to launch “Sansad Adarsh Gram yojna” on the birth anniversary of Jaiprakash Narain (JP).
In terms of popular acceptability, JP is possibly the biggest non-Congress icon in post-independence India. He was the one who successfully challenged and defeated a mighty Indira Gandhi at the height of her power. It was JP who gave wider political legitimacy to the then Jansangh, the original avatar of the BJP, by bringing it into the Janata Party and making opposition unity against Congress a reality.
The Jansangh, till then, despite its good showing was treated as a political untouchable.
The BJP has always been venerable towards JP. Three years ago LK Advani launched his last Rath Yatra against corruption on JP’s birth anniversary from his native village, Sitab diara in Bihar. But never before has an official scheme of this magnitude and with this much of fanfare has been launched in his name or coinciding on his birth anniversary.
By launching this scheme on 11 October, Modi is paying huge tribute to JP. More so, as it comes from a man who is leading the first non-Congress government, with a majority of his own.
Modi has been routinely picking up national icons outside the Nehru-Gandhi family for due felicitation and remembrance. He is associating their name with an issue, dear to him.
JP’s name is anathema to Congress but Modi has designed the Sansad Adarsh Gram project in a completely bi-partisan way, for all 750 Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs, it will be very difficult to either, disassociate or overtly criticise the initiative.
The Congress had found it difficult to be critical of Modi’s Clean Indian mission launched on 2 October. Though its Kerala state unit is targeting MP Shashi Tharoor for accepting Modi’s invite to participate in it, the central party leadership has so far been very guarded.
Modi’s googly on relating Chacha Nehru’s and Indira Gandhi’s birthday with five days of “Shramdan” (voluntary labour) from 14-19 November to promote cleanliness in schools has put Congress in a dilemma on whether to accept or reject it.
At an election rally in Hisar, Modi said that given that Congress leaders had no work to do, he was presenting them an opportunity to do something worthwhile in the name of Nehru and Indira. This is unlikely to have gone down well with the party leadership, but there has been no response so far.
On Saturday, JP’s birthday the Congress leadership has to decide how their MPs and state governments should react. This time it’s not just about Shashi Tharoor. The occasion will also present a difficult choice for Janata Parivar leaders.
The likes of Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad Yadav are products of JP movement. While they have a professed perennial distaste for Modi they will find it difficult to refuse to be part of the scheme. Modi has also sought cooperation from the states for his mission.
Minister of state in rural development, Upendra Kushwaha (since senior minister Nitin Gadkari is busy with the Maharashtra elections) is talking to his counterparts in the states personally, telling them about importance of the scheme and urging them to attend the launch function. The Prime Minister wants the states to extend the scheme for MLAs.
He had also talked about the programme in his Independence Day speech at length but many leaders had forgotten about it since then.
Modi had said “our Members of Parliament do not get opportunity though they are willing to do something. They can express themselves, write to the government, agitate, give memoranda but they do not get opportunity to do something on their own. I am going to announce a scheme on behalf of the Member of Parliament- Sansad Aadarsh Gram Yojana.”
“We shall fix some parameters. I urge all Members of Parliament to select any one of the villages having population of three to five thousand in your constituency….On the basis of those parameters, each of our MPs should make one village of his or her constituency a Model Village by 2016. Can't we do at least this? Shouldn't we do this? If we have to build a nation, we should start from the village. After 2016, select two more villages for this purpose, before we go for the General Elections in 2019. And after 2019, each Member of Parliament, during his or her tenure of 5 years must establish at-least five model villages. On 11th October, the occasion of birth anniversary of Jai Prakash Narayan Ji, I will present a complete blueprint of the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana.”
The MPs too have a clear task cut out for them. Modi has set out for higher popular expectations, and he has deflected some of it towards the parliamentarians and parties across the political spectrum to fill some of the gaps. If they fail, Modi would punch holes, if they succeed collectively he would be hailed for his vision.
Updated Date: Oct 11, 2014 11:23 AM