In her book, Sanju Verma ponders, “What is the Amethi model of ‘development’, or rather the complete lack of it?”
Sanju Verma. Truth & Dare-The Modi Dynamic. Blue Rose Publishers. Rs 430.
Amethi has lost patience, and for good reasons, says Sanju Verma in her book, Truth & Dare-The Modi Dynamic. Hopefully, she says, this impatience will be well harnessed to ensure that the ‘dynasty’ is discarded, so that Amethi gets to take a shot at good governance, something that Modinomics exemplifies, in more ways than one.
Rahul Gandhi, who cannot even give a public speech without a hand-written script or give a television interview that has not been scripted and filtered well in advance, has trolled Prime-Minister Modi on virtually every conceivable platform, while his own track record has been unenviably forgettable, which begets an often-asked question – What is the Amethi model of ‘development’, or rather the complete lack of it?
A little bit of delving back into recent history here would help. In the 1977 election, Ravindra Pratap Singh of the Janata Party became the MP from Amethi. Singh was defeated in 1980 by Sanjay Gandhi of the INC, Indian National Congress, but Sanjay Gandhi died in a plane crash in that very year, forcing a byelection in this constituency in 1981 which was won by his brother, Rajiv Gandhi. Gandhi went on to represent this constituency until 1991, before his death that year and the subsequent by-election held in the same year was won by Satish Sharma, Rajiv’s close pal. Sharma was also elected as the MP in the next election in 1996. Sanjay Singh of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) defeated Sharma in the 1998 election and it was only during this brief period that Amethi was represented by a non-Congress leader. Sonia Gandhi represented this constituency from 1999–2004 as a MP and thereafter from 2004 till date, it has been Rahul Gandhi, Sonia’s son, who has been the MP of this constituency, with the last Lok Sabha election held in 2014, and the next one due in 2019. As of 2014, Amethi has been represented by four members of the Nehru-Gandhi family since 1980, for 34 long years, with the mother son duo of Sonia and Rahul, representing it since 1991, for over two decades. In 2019, before the Lok Sabha polls, Rahul would have completed a good 15 years as the MP of Amethi. Hence, it is only fair to ask Rahul and Sonia, what exactly is the Amethi model?
In the 1980s, Amethi was as backward or at par with many districts in other states. However, over almost the last four odd decades, many constituencies in states like, say, Gujarat for instance, have witnessed substantial development, be it the likes of Surat, Bardoli and Valsad under successive BJP-led governments, or Indore, under the erstwhile Shivraj Singh Chouhan government, with flourishing business centres, good infrastructure, roads, hospitals and round-the-clock electricity. One should visit Shimoga town in the heart of Karnataka to understand how BS Yedyuruppa, the BJP heavyweight transformed the area, reflecting what public representatives can do to a district if they really get down to business in terms of living upto the faith reposed in them by the common citizenry. But alas, poor Amethi, which has been represented almost continuously by the Nehru-Gandhis for over thirty years, finds itself as neglected and miserable as it was in the 1980s. Out of the 70 plus years in independent India, Congress ruled the state of Uttar Pradesh for about 34 years. It was also in power at the centre during most of these years. Hence, Rahul and Sonia cannot even hide under the lame pretext of the central government stalling projects in Uttar Pradesh or Amethi.
Ditto for Raebareli, which has been in the callous hands of the Gandhi family since 1951, when Feroze Gandhi became its first MP. Except on a few occasions, when Raj Narain of Janata Party defeated Indira Gandhi in 1977 and later in 1996 and 1998, when Ashok Singh of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won from the constituency, Raebareli has always been with the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. Before elaborating further on the failed Amethi model, some data that was published in “Peoples Democracy”, a CPI (M) weekly mouthpiece, in September 2010, showcases that Raebareli-Amethi fared worse than even Purulia, which, alongwith Bankura, have been historically called the two most underdeveloped regions of West Bengal. For instance, people below the poverty line in Purulia in West Bengal stood at 31 per cent, but in Raebareli and Amethi it was an embarrassing 54 per cent. Again, families with access to electricity in Purulia were 29 per cent but, in Raebareli-Amethi it was a mere 14 per cent. Per capita expenditure in Purulia was a lowly Rs. 461 and in Raebareli-Amethi, even lower at Rs. 385. The number of vaccinated children in Purulia stood at 84 per cent but, in Raebareli-Amethi it was a horrifying 16 per cent only. Neo-natal deaths in Purulia were 46 per 1000 and in Raebareli-Amethi, that number was an unacceptable 83 per 1000. Also, fatality below five years stood at 89 per 1000 in Purulia and in Rae Bareli-Amethi, it was 160, showing that not only were people in the VIP Raebareli-Amethi constituencies bereft of basic amenities but equally, overall life expectancy and quality of life cut a sorry state of affairs, with most people living in abject misery.
What a pity that the mother-son duo who represent Raebareli and Amethi were mute spectators as these two VVIP constituencies hurtled into a dark abyss for over two decades. Around 36 villages in Amethi suffer from the problem of khaara paani (saline water) and crores allotted for digging ponds to resolve something as basic as the availability of sufficient drinking water, have either never been utilised productively or cornered by spurious elements, in a stark reminder of how Rahul Gandhi is not taken seriously even by the administrative officials of his own constituency. Rahul, on the other hand, blind to ground realities, conveniently claims credit for the HAL and the BHEL units in Amethi, whereas the former was set up in 1982 and the latter in 1983, and Rahul Gandhi’s contribution to both these projects was an ansolute (sic) zero, in much the same way as his contribution to the Indo-gulf fertilizer plant set up in 1998 in Amethi, was zilch. Again, Rahul Gandhi’s lies on the Rail Neer plant in Tikaria in Amethi have been correctly punctured by the BJP. While the Gandhi scion and the Congress staked false claims, the hard truth is the Rail Neer plant with a capacity to churn out 72,000 bottles of water per day was commissioned not in 2014, but, by the IRCTC, an arm of the Indian Railways, in 2015, under the aegis of the Narendra Modi-led government.
It is not merely the apathy of the mother-son duo that made a mockery of the democratic ethos of India that is unacceptable, there have been other unanswered questions too, which Sonia and Rahul have never come clean on. For example, in 1983, 65 acres of land belonging to farmers was acquired in Kauhar village of Amethi and given to Samrat Bicycles to set up a manufacturing plant. However, the company did not commence work and soon closed down. To repay the loan, it auctioned the land allotted by Uttar Pradesh State Industrial Development Corporation (UPSIDC). It has been alleged that later, the highly valuable 65 acres of farmers’ land, was summarily “transferred or sold” to the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust by UPSIDC, for a mere Rs. 10 crores, flouting standard procedures. While the allegedly arbitrary manner in which Samrat Bicycles closed down and government land was thereafter doled out to the Rajiv Gandhi Trust has been a matter of public debate in Amethi, Rahul Gandhi on his part has been unflappable, putting up a facade of false bravado. Not only Samrat Bicycles, reportedly, dozens of small and medium-sized industries closed down under suspicious circumstances or became dysfunctional after the death of Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, with most projects which had been started, being put on hold. Large tracts of land that were taken from the farmers of Amethi either illegally, or in the guise of providing them sustainable jobs and setting up viable industrial units, were reportedly fraudulently “sold” off to cronies of the Gandhis at ridiculously cheap rates after these industries became sick, and in the entire process, farmers were left high and dry, with no land, no jobs, no income and, nothing to fall back upon. Farmers and inmates of Parsauli village in Amethi vented out their anger and frustration against Rahul, with the entire village deciding not to vote in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, 2017, in which, incidentally, the Congress was reduced to an embarrassing 7 seats only, in an assembly of 403 seats, but that still did not wake up the Gandhis from their lethargic inertia.
Given below are snippets from a piece in ‘Hindustan Times’ in January 2014, where Umesh Raghuvanshi summed it up brilliantly, capturing the essence of Amethi’s failed model – “A stretch of potholes on the 60km road connecting Amethi and Rae Bareli, the twin VVIP Lok Sabha constituencies in Central UP, speaks volumes about the region that many believe should have been the country’s model constituency. People are no more content with the VIP status they enjoyed over the years. They displayed their anger by defeating the Congress in three of the five assembly seats in the 2012 elections”.
“’True, we have a distinct identity. But we also have our needs. The constituency’s status has not helped us and our children. Our land was taken away for the construction of the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology but none of our boys was given a job. Only outsiders are getting admission to this institute’, said Yaar Mohammad the village pradhan of Mubarakpur village”, writes Raghuvanshi.
“‘He does not meet the people; he only waves to them and leaves thereafter whenever he is here’ said Mukesh Bansal, a trader from Gauriganj, the district headquarters of Amethi. ‘Yet, driven by their sentiments, people vote for him,’ he added,” further writes Raghuvanshi.
The most telling commentary of Rahul’s apathy is captured in the piece, which states that, “Rahul’s representative, Chandrakant Dubey believes the numerous complaints are actually an expression of the love and affection of the local people. ‘Many of them even meet Soniaji to lodge their complaints if Rahul Gandhi misses a function or a visit to their homes to greet or pay condolences’ he said… Rahul has referred to this bond every time he has addressed the people, often striking an emotional chord: ‘I used to come here as a 12-year-old kid. My father, the late Rajiv Gandhi, used to speak to the people at similar functions. I used to watch from the sidelines. In 1991, my father died and stopped guiding me. Now the people of Amethi lead my way.’” writes Raghuvanshi about Rahul.
Clearly, while the people of Amethi reposed their blind faith and confidence in Rahul, buying his emotional platitudes, the dynast in turn failed, and false promises are all that he delivered, besides, of course, paying fleeting visits, which gave him his regular dosage of publicity when he was not trolling the Prime Minister, in a language unfit for a leader who is the president of a party that claims to have a national footprint.
If Raghuvanshi laid bare Amethi’s overflowing cup of misery, Piyush Srivastava, in August 2015 in the ‘Daily Mail’ went further ahead to say, “Unlike the Dickensian narrative, which is also about hope, the story of Raebareli and Amethi is that of enduring darkness and despair. The constituencies struggle to meet even the basic requirements of their residents such as electricity and education, lagging behind some of the poorest districts in the country”.
Srivastava went on to write about how residents of Raebareli gathered at the gate of the National Thermal Power Corporation in Unchahar back then in 2015, demanding at least 14 hours of power distribution, as opposed to the crippling and erratic 8-10 hours that the residents in many parts were forced to live with. Amethi also saw a similar protest by its women residents demanding power in its Utelwa village.
Srivastava further wrote, “Meanwhile, a routine inspection by the Basic Education Officer Ram Sagar Pati Tripathi in primary schools in Raebareli, revealed low attendance rates despite high enrollment figures. At the district’s Lalganj Primary School, for instance, out of the 50 students enrolled only 36 attended classes. Similarly, in the neighbouring Parispur Primary School out of the 152 enrolled, only 56 were present at the time of inspection. The story is the same in Amethi as well, which registered a below 40 per cent attendance in schools due to the lack of infrastructure facilities. “Official statistics show that Raebareli and Amethi fall below even Jhansi and Etawah, regarded as among the poorest regions in the state, in the terms of literacy rates and social development indices. Ram Bahadur Verma, a former professor at Firoze Gandhi Degree College in Raebareli believes it is due to a misplaced sense of priorities. ‘The local people are as poor as ever. But despite the situation, they crave for national and international fame for their constituency rather than growth,’ says Verma.”
Another snippet from Srivastava’s piece which shows how the poor people of Amethi and Raebareli have been brainwashed emotionally to trade growth for empty dynasty style glamour is this –“Mohammad Naseer, panchayat chief of Bahadurgarh in Amethi, agrees. ‘It is a strange thought process. But people from both the constituencies think that they will lose their identity if the members of the Gandhi-Nehru family do not represent them in Parliament. They are happy living in misery just because Sonia, Rahul or Priyanka sometimes visit their village and hold meetings with them,’ alleges Naseer.”
To further corroborate the pathetic state of affairs in Raebareli-Amethi, Srivastava, in 2015, also compared these two VIP constituencies with those of Jhansi and Etawah. For example, literacy rate in Raebareli and Amethi stood at 68 and 64 per cent respectively, while in Jhansi it was far higher at 75 per cent and in Etawah, even higher at 78 per cent. Below Poverty Line (BPL) families in Raebareli were 3,29,000 and in Amethi, 4,07,000, while in Jhansi and Etawah, the comparable numbers were much lower at 72,000 and 1,12,000, respectively. Number of government engineering colleges were one each in Raebareli and Etawah, three in Jhansi and a big zero in Amethi in 2014-15. The numbers for government medical college were equally sad, shocking and uninspiring. While there was atleast (sic) one government medical college each in both Jhansi and Etawah, Amethi and Raebareli had none in 2014 and that has been such a pity.
Again, till the Modi government assumed power at the centre and ensured seamless LPG cylinder distribution to an abundant number of places, especially in the rural and semi urban hinterland, places like Gauriganj in Amethi were notorious for incidents of fisticuffs, brawls and street fights between multiple groups on something as basic as getting refilled LPG cylinders. Rahul’s party was in power before May 2014 and if domestic gas production and distribution was the direct responsibility of the Union Ministry of Petroleum, why could Rahul, as an MP from Amethi, not fight for the people of Gauriganj? Why could he not impress upon the then Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh or other relevant cabinet ministers to do the needful, knowing fully well that this was a central government prerogative? Local media reports dating back to 2014 from Amethi expressed the shock and helplessness of district officials, as even kerosene and sugar meant for the PDS network for poor families was cornered by local Dabbangs and bullies, with Rahul Gandhi being a mute spectator. and sometimes, not even that, as he did not even care to visit his constituency for months together after the election hoopla was over. Showing scant regard for either his responsibilities as an MP, or any modicum of love for the people who had elected his uncle Sanjay, his father Rajiv, his mother Sonia and then him, for decades together as a mark of loyalty towards the NehruGandhi clan, which, however did precious little beyond paying lip service, Rahul Gandhi lived up to the callous attitude and irreverant (sic) tradition of his family and predecessors, who had let down Amethi, election after election.
Residents of Amethi town and the nearby villages, on the eve of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, had complained about the totally erratic electricity supply and that their lives were miserably unbearable especially in the hot summer months from April to August. Electricity supply in Amethi and Raebareli was confined to the main towns, but villages had to make do with electricity only in the morning for one week and during the night the following week, reportedly. Villagers said that they would sleep on their terraces or under trees and since electricity was almost never there, they had learnt to live without it. But there are limits to their patience as well. That is why 1000 voters of Tyonsi village, who had lived without electricity for 15 years, told the media that they would not vote as a mark of protest.
Contrast this with Gujarat, where Narendra Modi, as the erstwhile Chief Minister, had ensured 24/7 electricity supply in his home state. Therefore, it is rather hilarious to see the Gandhi scion from Amethi taking potshots at PM Modi on a daily basis, when he was unable to ensure even ten hours of uninterrupted power supply to his constituents in a single district which he and his mother Sonia Gandhi have represented since 1991. The Amethi model of ‘development’ is actually an oxymoron, and one that, sadly, is all about lack of political will, adhocism, alienation with no sense of belonging, ineptitude, corruption, and most importantly, about the refusal to even be seized of the magnitude of the misery, which is so typical of insensitive and careless dynasts, who want power, only to acquire more power, to again acquire more wealth, and propitiate other like-minded sycophants and dynasts in their coterie.
What a pity that, in both Amethi and Raebareli, the condition of primary schools was pathetic. Most of these schools did not have drinking water facilities or toilets. Many of them had no boundary walls, so much so that villagers defecated around the school building daily and the children had to wade through all this to reach their class rooms. If large tracts of unelectrified villages in Amethi got electricity, and if sanitation and access to toilets became a reality in many areas of this VIP constituency, the credit goes to Narendra Modi, singularly and unequivocally, for rising above party politics and ideological differences to ensure that the governance deficit abetted by the mother-son duo of Sonia and Rahul in Raebareli-Amethi was eradicated.
Another example of Rahul Gandhi’s fake and failed promises is the fact that travel from Jagdishpur to Amethi, via Gauriganj, has been replete with backbreaking potholes. A. Suryaprakash, a reputed columnist and renowned journalist who has visited Amethi and written on the Amethi model, more than anyone else in recent times, said in a piece in 2014 – “The Amethi-Pratapgarh road is equally bad. Some of the worst roads in this area are the roads connecting Sultanpur and Gauriganj and Gauriganj and Raebareli. These are all roads crisscrossing the constituencies represented by the Nehru-Gandhis for over three decades.” The fearless Suryaprakash further wrote, “It must indeed be the biggest irony of Indian politics that a district which reposed faith in a family that has ruled this country either directly or through proxy for close to 50 years since independence, is today one of the laggards in regard to development. Asked why the Nehru-Gandhis have neglected Amethi and Rae Bareli in this manner, more than one person told this writer that the Nerhru-Gandhis had developed a vested interest in poverty, under-development and illiteracy. Another said, ‘If you can garner votes simply by waving your hand at the crowds, why do you have to develop the constituency?’ After seeing Amethi in 2014, it was rather amusing to hear Ms. Priyanka Vadra claim, in a campaign speech in the constituency, that her brother Rahul was a “doordarshi” (person with foresight)!”.
A. Suryaprakash, drilling more holes in the Amethi model in 2014, went on to write – “Mr. Rahul Gandhi talks every day about the food security bill and the reformed public distribution system (PDS) that the UPA government has implemented. If this is the reformed PDS, with local goons cornering kerosene and sugar supplies and LPG cylinders, one wonders what it must have been like in the preceding decades!”
Contrast Rahul Gandhi’s empty rhetoric, false assurances, white lies, lack of political will, lethargy and damning callousness towards his constituency, with the courage of conviction and farsightedness of PM Narendra Modi, who has transformed Varanasi, commissioning two highways of a total of 34 kms, to improve connectivity and hasten the pace of development, in November 2018, with the 16.55 km Varanasi Ring Road Phase-I, completed at a cost of Rs. 759.36 crore, while the work of four-laning and construction of 17.25 km Babatput-Varanasi road on NH-56 has been completed at a cost Rs. 812.59 crore. The Babatpur Airport highway will link Varanasi to the airport and extend further to Jaunpur, Sultanpur, and Lucknow. With a flyover at Harhua and Road Over Bridge (ROB) at Tarna, the road will reduce the travel time from Varanasi to the airport and will prove a big relief to the residents, tourists and other visitors. The Ring Road, with two ROBs and a flyover, will provide a way for traffic on NH 56 (Lucknow-Varanasi), NH 233 (Azamgarh-Varanasi), and NH 29 (Gorakhpur-Varanasi), and AyodhyaVaranasi highways to avoid traffic within the confines of Varanasi city, thereby reducing traffic congestion in the city. These projects will also provide employment opportunities and development of small and medium industries in the area.
As of December 2018, there were 2833 km of National Highway projects costing Rs. 63,885 crore underway, to link Varanasi to other places in eastern Uttar Pradesh. That PM Modi also dedicated the newly constructed MultiModal Terminal on River Ganga to the nation, is the first of the four multi-modal terminals being constructed on NW-I (River Ganga) as part of the World Bankaided Jal Marg Vikas project of the Inland Waterways Authority of India, and is a ringing endorsement of how Modi’s constituency, Varanasi, hitherto neglected for decades, has received not merely a cosmetic face-lift but a complete make-over, that has unleashed a development boom of a kind never witnessed before in this holy city of Kashi.
Moving away from Varanasi, while Sonia and Rahul symbolise all that is horribly wrong with the Raebareli-Amethi model, it was again left to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to provide the denizens of India, Uttar Pradesh and Amethi included, 100 per cent village electrification, a landmark achieved on 28th April 2018. It was not merely connecting over 18,500 odd villages to the electricity network but to reach out to the poorest of poor who had remained in darkness for more than 70 years after independence, which was the big challenge. Most of these villages were located in remote and inaccessible areas with difficult terrain in hilly and forest areas as also those severely affected with Left Wing Extremism, LWE. The transportation of materials, equipment and mobilisation of manpower for execution of works required determination and perseverance. About 272 villages in Arunachal Pradesh, 54 in Jammu & Kashmir, 9 in Meghalaya and 12 in Manipur, were located in terrain that required head loading of materials and trekking for up to 10-15 days. Materials in some villages of J&K and Arunachal Pradesh had to be even transported by helicopter. In another 2762 villages, extending grid network was not feasible due to remote and inaccessible locations and hence, solar based standalone systems were provided. Enormous challenges were confronted in electrification of 7614 LWE villages in Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha. However, in the end, it was all worth the effort. This universal village electrification program has also set an example of effective cooperative federalism wherein the union government, state governments, Distribution Companies and the administration, all synergised their efforts for a common goal, made possible by Modinomics.
After villages, the next step was to light up every household. PM Modi launched the ‘Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana’, popularly called Saubhagya in October 2017 with the aim to achieve universal household electrification. Achievement of this before the targetted timeline of end of March 2019, is now in the realm of reality, with over one lakh households on an average, getting lit up and ‘electrified’ every single day since the inception of Saubhagya. A targeted programme of such a humongous scale has never been attempted in any country in the world ever before. The progress is again exemplary in terms of speed and innovation, with the milestone of ‘lighting’ the initial two crore households under the Saubhagya scheme, getting achieved on the 19th of November 2018 itself, within barely a year of commissioning.
In addition to providing last mile connectivity, strengthening of backup system network in distribution and sub-transmission segment along with metering, IT enablement and automation, it is equally important to ensure supply of adequate power with desired quality and reliability. For this purpose, the Modi government has been providing financial assistance to the states under Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) and Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS) for rural and urban areas respectively. Projects worth Rs. 14,0000 crore have been rolled out under these schemes. Under these schemes, creation of 1204 new sub-stations, augmentation of capacity in 1601 existing sub-stations, erection of 161101 new distribution transformers, 1,11,734 kms of HT lines and 98,028 kms of LT line have been completed. System strengthening works under these schemes, coupled with reforms adopted under Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY), would facilitate 24/7 quality and reliable power supply to all, including the harried and hapless folk in Raebareli-Amethi, who had been carelessly left to their fate by the mother-son duo, till Modi came along and decided to give these two VVIP constituencies the basics denied to them for decades. UDAY interventions have resulted in (i) reduction in Aggregate Technical and Commercial Losses (AT&C) losses from 20.77 per cent to 18.72 per cent (ii) reduction in ACSARR (Average Cost of Supply - Average Revenue Realization) gap from 60 paisa per unit to 17 paisa per unit (iii) savings on interest cost of about Rs. 31,800 crore to utilities and reduction in losses from Rs. 51,575 crore to Rs. 15,132 crore.
NTPC and other major Gencos need to be congratulated for keeping the power purchase costs almost constant, in spite of increases in the cost of coal, freight and other materials. Congratulations are also in order for R.K Singh, MoS-Power, New & Renewable Energy, who has done an outstanding job within the broader framework of Modinomics.
It is hardly surprising, therefore, that the initiatives of the Modi government have helped India in achieving the 24th rank in 2018 on World Bank’s Ease of Getting Electricity in the world, as against an abominable 111th rank in 2014, under a thoroughly inept Congress-led UPA-2. The world has looked on our progress with amazement and admiration. The International Energy Agency has called Modi’s universal electrification scheme as one of the greatest success stories of 2018. Also, besides being a quantum leap showing the result-oriented approach of the Modi dispensation, at the backend of the power value chain, this also helped India to largely achieve the ‘One Nation One Grid’ status. For instance, the pace of grid construction has been enhanced to an average of 24,908 km per year in the last 4.5 years of the Modi government, from an average of a measly 4385 km in the previous 5 years of Congress-led UPA-2. The rapid pace of grid construction has helped faster power transfers across the country. Again, about 2.96 Lakh MVA transformation capacity has been added during the years 2014-18, with tariff based competitive bidding having brought in transparency and efficiency in the system.
In order to meet the rising demand of electricity which has been growing at over 10 per cent, and is expected to increase further, addition to the generation capacity is important. During the last 4 years, the total installed capacity has increased by 1 Lakh MW, with the overall installed capacity of renewable energy having more than doubled in the last 4.5 years from 34,000 MW to 72,000 MW, with solar capacity alone having increased 8 times in last 4 years. Exploring avenues that promote energy preservation, concerted efforts to efficiently use energy on the demand side through various innovative and visionary policy measures like UJALA, Star labelling program, which saved roughly Rs. 22,500 crore, energy conservation building code and energy efficiency measures via Perform, Achieve and Trade (PAT), are a few initiatives in this area. The first cycle of PAT for industry, achieved savings of over Rs. 9500 crore and more than 8.6 million tonnes of oil equivalent, which is almost 1.23 percent of primary energy supply in India. The second cycle is estimated to achieve even higher savings. Multiple avenues for consumers to make e-payment through platforms such as BHIM, BBPS, Bharat QR, and NPCI, with more than 24 crore digital transactions in 2017-18 for electricity bill payment, alone, speaks volumes about how Modinomics has reached every nook and corner of India to ameliorate the lives of millions.
In order to assess the benefits of village electrification, once a village is declared electrified, the village is revisited after 2-3 months to record the changes in livelihood of the villagesr (sic). During such visits, data is collected on various parameters such as purchase of home appliances of daily use by villagers like mobile phones, fans, TVs, refrigerators, mixers, grinders and coolers and also opening of new ration shops, workshops for repairs, flour mills, health centres, etc. Feedback of villagers is also obtained on hours of supply, ease of life for women in doing daily chores, children getting more time to study and opening of any new economic opportunities.
Impact analysis was carried out in 6751 villages in 15 states, post electrification by the government. It was reported that 27,771 new shops were opened apart from 2777 flour mills in these villages, with villagers using over 2.2 lakh television sets and over 53,197 refrigerators. In a study carried out by Quality Council of India (QCI) in 972 sample villages of six states, namely, Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and U.P., people reported greater ease in day to day work, increased educational opportunities, higher earnings and reduced reliance on alternative fuels for lighting, after the Modi government’s sweeping universal electrification program.
It was important to digress a bit and highlight the gigantic strides in universal electrification by the Modi dispensation, to bring out the glaring contrast in the dynamic work ethic of Kaamdaar (Modi), versus the embarrassing lethargy of Naamdaar (Rahul). The Naamdaar, as is evident from hard data, has failed the people of Amethi, resoundingly.
Coming back to Amethi, an article in August 2018 in the ‘Organiser’, further corroborates that the failed, narcissistic Amethi model is steeped in self-publicity by the Nehru-Gandhi clan, and besides milking Raebareli-Amethi for their own vested propagabda and political benefits, the mother-son duo did virtually nothing, for decades together. The reporter from the ‘Organiser’ who penned the misery and despair of the constituents of Amethi, did so after visiting Amethi and interacting with the locals there. Snippets from the scathingly hard-hitting piece, which demolishes Rahul Gandhi’s false but carefully-crafted, pro-development image created by his PR team, are presented below, in parts.
“Bade baap ke bigde hue bete hain” and “Only having lunch or dinner in a Dalit family will not make him a leader”, are some of the remarks made by an elderly Ramdulare, a self-proclaimed and staunch “Congressi” in his 90s, when asked about his MP Rahul Gandhi. Ramdulare is a retired professor and one of those markers of history in the constituency, who have seen all the Gandhis traversing Amethi, i.e., Sanjay Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and then Rahul Gandhi. Labourer and resident of Amethi, Dharamraj Yadav, criticising Rahul for visiting Amethi only during elections, was even more unsparing when he said – “Rahul Ji ko hamari yaad sirf chunnav ke samay aati hai”, adding, “While one can find Rahul Gandhi constantly mocking the ‘Gujarat model of development’ in his stammered aggression, he never made a serious effort to make Amethi a better constituency than others, leave aside a ‘model of development’. Mocking others is not his job”. Clearly, Dharamraj was not only miffed, but felt cheated by the Gandhi scion, when he further went on to say – “I am born and brought up in Amethi, and nothing much has changed for us; still, we live in the hope that the things will change for better, someday. No job opportunities, no quality education, no infrastructure; I want to ask a simple question, what has the Gandhi-Nehru family done for us in these so many years?” And this pertinent question, on the minds of most Raebareli-Amethi residents, sums up the decades of sheer political apathy on the part of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, who have not only let down those who trusted them, but also highlighted all that is wrong with a dynasty that ruled India for the better part of post-independence India, on the virtue of just a surname, that too a borrowed one.
In a recent visit to Amethi in 2018, Rahul Gandhi spoke of converting Amethi into a California or a Singapore, which is seriously laughable because one of the significant projects visualised by Rahul Gandhi, the Amethi bypass road, which was to connect all the major routes like Pratapgarh, Durgapur, Sultanpur and Musafir Khana, has been in shambles. Again, forget the much-hyped mega food park that was to come up in Jagdishpur, there is not even a single children’s park where the children can go and play, or elders can sit for some time and breathe in fresh air.
“‘More than 2 lakh people are below poverty line in the constituency. You can imagine the situation and ugly face of underdevelopment here. Amethi is not demanding any charity, what we are asking for is our right. Rahul Gandhi cannot understand the frustration, the youth of Amethi have been suffering,’ remarked a 23-year-old Vishuv Mishra in exasperation. ‘What we want is an opportunity, youth are left with no options but to leave Amethi and shift to Delhi or other similar cities if they wish to get a decent job. I can say, the youth of Amethi are “padhe-likhe berozgaar”,’ he added in displeasure. After almost 15 years as Amethi’s MP, and for ten years during which, his party was in power in centre, he has not done anything remarkable for the constituency. He failed to change the face of Amethi. His promise of establishing a food park didn’t take off after the much-hyped bhoomipoojan’, Vishuv informed.” It is not only 23 year old Vishuv who is sorely disillusioned with the Amethi model. Similar sentiment was echoed by 62 year old Girija who said – “If you are suffering from a major health issue or something serious happens suddenly, you have no option other than going to Lucknow or Delhi which is miles away from Amethi. There is not even a single good trauma centre”.
Not just health, even the education system in Amethi has been in tatters, with Rahul Gandhi blissfully incompetent as ever. A startling revelation, an HRD Ministry report on school education in Uttar Pradesh prepared by the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) in 2016, claimed that Amethi is the most backward region in eastern Uttar Pradesh, particularly in the school education system. With poor transportation, residents of Amethi face many difficulties, and hence, even today, instead of going to school or college, “girls in this area take care of domestic animals, do agricultural related work and work as labour in fields,” said the report, quoting the residents of Amethi. The research report prepared by educationist Professor Pawan Sharma, said that the survey team found that schools in Amethi did not function according to the mandated plan, largely remained closed and the conditions of the schools were indescribable, not to mention the fact that Amethi, despite being a VVIP constituency, had no university.
The 2016 NIOS report exposes the hypocrisy of Rahul Gandhi who espouses the cause of women empowerment ad nauseam, but, in his own constituency in Amethi, most young girls do not even get to go to school simply because there are no proper roads, routine amenities are a far cry, and even basics like drinking water and access to sanitation are a distant dream for many. While the Modi dispensation never accorded a step-fatherly treatment to Raebareli-Amethi, and among other things, provided access to basic amenities including electricity, and even started work on a Sainik School and Kendriya Vidyalaya, the MP from Amethi, Rahul Gandhi, has no excuses and no business shirking away from his fiduciary duties to his constituency, by virtue of being its duly elected representative.
While Rahul Gandhi continued spreading misinformation, Narendra Modi, being the “Karmayogi” that he is, took the significant decision to manufacture the AK-203, which is the modernised version of AK-47 assault rifles, in collaboration with Russia, at the Ordnance Factory at Korwa, in Amethi. This joint venture will give a huge boost to the Uttar Pradesh Defence Industrial Corridor (UPDIC) project. Talking of Rahul Gandhi, for all his false bravado and rhetoric mixed with a heady cocktail of lies and ignorance on “Rafale”, the fact is, the apex court in India has clearly and unequivocally stated that there was no “commercial favouritism” in the Rafale deal. Additionally, the CAG report confirmed the fact that the deal signed by the Modi government, in 2016, was cheaper and far superior to the deal that an incompetent Congress-led UPA failed to sign, despite starting the bidding process for acquiring fighter jets from Dassault Aviation SA, in 2007, and finalising Rafale as the most competitive bidder, in 2011.
The moot point to be noted here is, can India afford to take chances and give an opportunity to lead to a dynast, who has not only failed miserably in discharging his duties as a Member of Parliament, but more importantly, has no sense of equanimity, responsibility or sobriety, in matters pertaining to national security. The answer is a vehement “No”! Had the Modi government not signed the Rafale deal, India’s combat fighter aircraft squadron fleet would have seen its strength coming down from the current 31, to 27, by 2032, and just 19, by 2042. What Rahul Gandhi and the Congress need to answer is this – When the Rafale deal is cheaper and superior in terms of avionics, radars, fitted missiles, weapon systems, escalation clause, performance guarantees, delivery schedules, and India-specific customisations, as has been corroborated by defence experts and even senior IAF officials, who have no axe to grind, why is the Gandhi scion raking up the Rafale issue at every conceivable platform? Let the truth be told – India has no stomach for middlemen under the Modi government, unlike past dispensations which thrived on “doles”. Modi does what is best for India and Indians. It is time to also clear the air on another issue – there is a bunch of “Lutyenised media”, which claims Indira Gandhi has been the most decisive leader, ever. Well, that is a big Goebbelsian lie! Indira lost her nerves when it mattered most. She could not even secure the release of 54 Prisoners of War (POWs), despite India’s victory against Pakistan in the 1971 war. The gains of a victory on the battle-field by our brave soldiers were frittered away at the negotiating table by a weak and indecisive Indira Gandhi, by signing the 1972 “Shimla Agreement”, which was majorly skewed against India.
The reason for delving into the past and deviating from Amethi is simply to underline the fact that India is on the cusp of a transformational global order, where it has the ability to lead from the front, under Narendra Modi. Let a failed dynast from Amethi not fool his way through, like his ancestors did. The Varanasi model under Modi has succeeded because its central ethos is transparency that is bereft of any form of jingoism. Rahul Gandhi, much like many Hinduphobic left-leaning activists and Jihadists, who dislike “Kafirs”, may well accuse Prime Minister Narendra Modi of hyper-nationalism, but the hard truth is this – the failure of Rahul’s Amethi model is symptomatic of the larger problem where national pride is subverted. Rahul should answer why his father, the late Rajiv Gandhi, fled India at the peak of the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971, along with his wife Sonia, to Italy. Also, Rahul’s mother, Sonia Gandhi nee Maino, the ex-Congress President, who ran a “kitchen cabinet”, needs to answer why the Congress-led UPA government failed to take any action against Pakistan, post the horrific Mumbai terror attack in 2008, also known as the 26/11 terror attack. That a sinfully incompetent Congress party, miserably failed the Indian Army that did not even have bullet-proof jackets in 2008, while fighting the most dastardly terror attack on Indian soil, speaks volumes about how the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty has had a history of letting down India, repeatedly and reportedly, wilfully.
In the epic Mahabharata, Queen Gandhari could see, but chose to put on a blindfold, in a show of solidarity with her blind husband, King Dhritarashtra. Gandhari’s decision of being blind by choice has been debated by both ancient and contemporary academicians, in great earnest. While the jury is still out on whether Gandhari, the mother of a hundred sons, the Kauravas, was right or wrong, Sonia Gandhi’s role as a modern-day Gandhari cannot be justified on any count. In Sonia’s case, it has been her “Putra-moh” (love for Rahul, her only son), which blinded her to Rahul’s inadequacies as a politician, so much so that despite having a more than fair idea of Rahul’s abject incompetence, she still chose to foist him upon the unsuspecting constituents of Amethi, and then went a step ahead, by anointing him as the Congress President in December 2017. That Rahul Gandhi’s Amethi model is a shoddy one that has failed on every development metric and equally, an outdated one too, which is steeped in a “clannish” attitude which has no connect with the masses, and lacks both vision and honesty, is not a secret. India however, which aims to lead the 5th Industrial Revolution, which will be dominated by cyber systems, robotics, artificial intelligence and nanotechnology, among others, has neither the time nor the inclination to experiment with failure anymore. Rahul Gandhi had not one, not two, not three, but in 2019, he would have completed 15 long years as the MP from Amethi. If in 15 years, he could not even give pucca roads to his constituents, it should be the end of the road for him in terms of his political career. Amethi has lost patience, and with good reasons. Hopefully, that impatience will be well harnessed to ensure that the dynast is discarded in 2019, so that Amethi gets to take a shot at good governance, something that Modinomics exemplifies, in more ways than one.