No takers for MPs’ Aadarsh Gram!

It may be one of his pet schemes but Prime Minister Narendra Modi and almost all his ministers are among around 750 MPs who are yet to select a village for development under the second phase of ‘Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana’.

As per latest details available on the scheme’s official website, only 30 lawmakers — 24 out of 543 from Lok Sabha and six of 252 from Rajya Sabha — have chosen villages under the second phase.

Of this, seven are ministers, including Cabinet Ministers Sushma Swaraj and Tawarchand Gehlot. The other ministers who chose villages are Bandaru Dattatreya, Nirmala Sitharaman, Mukthar Abbas Naqvi, Babul Surpiyo (all BJP) and Ashok Gajapathi Raju, the lone non-BJP minister in this group so far.

While the deadline for submitting their choice of village for the second phase was January 31, 765 MPs have not given their choice. In the phase one, 499 Lok Sabha MPs and 198 Rajya Sabha MPs were part of the scheme though many of them had expressed reservation of the programme as no separate funds were earmarked for it.

It is not Modi alone who has not selected the village to be developed in the second phase. Prominent leaders like Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, L K Advani and senior ministers like Arun Jaitley, Manohar Parrikar, and M Venkaiah Naidu are yet to choose one village for the second phase.

As per the programme, the plan is to develop three villages by an MP as model villages by 2019. About 2,200 villages have to be developed in the first three phases by then.

With funds remaining an issue, the government has asked gram panchayats to “proactively tap the resources and the strengths of the private, voluntary and cooperative sectors (PVC Sector) which could help in making available relevant technologies for local adoptions and making investments / providing services for local economic development, either independently or to supplement Government efforts”.

Most of the MPs who chose villages in the second phase are BJP MPs, including Sakshi Maharaj and Nishikant Dubey. T Subbarami Reddy (Congress) and Ameth Rajan (BSP) are among other prominent MPs in the list.

With funds remaining a problem, Samajwadi Party MP Naresh Agarwal had in March last year announced that he was giving up the village he adopted under the scheme. The scheme has also invited criticism from a large section of MPs, including those from BJP, for not earmarking separate funds for the scheme and asking them to use the MPLAD fund.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Feb 17, 2016)

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