Policies were made in the past keeping ballot box in mind: PM

Ballia : Apparently hitting out at the erstwhile Congress-led governments, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said most policies had been made in the past keeping the ballot box in mind and not for development or alleviation of poverty.

“Our government has been working for the uplift of the poverty-stricken people… through ‘jan bhagidari’ (people’s participation). Many policies had been made keeping in mind the ballot box and not the real interests of the vast majority of the poor people of our country,” he said at a public meeting here.

He also launched the ‘PM Ujjwala Yojana’ scheme which aims at providing 5 crore free cooking (LPG) connections to below- poverty-line families over the next three years.

“Uttar Pradesh has given so many Prime Ministers. But why did the poverty levels go on increasing? Were there some drawbacks in these policies?” he asked.

He said an MP from Ghazipur in UP when Jawaharlal Nehru was the Prime Minister had raised the issue of abject poverty in eastern UP following which a commission was formed which made several major recommendations.

“What happened to those recommendations, only God knows. Fifty years have passed since then. One of the recommendations was to connect Ghazipur and Mau by rail. We have now decided to construct a rail line to implement that recommendation,” Modi said.

The Prime Minister also spoke on the significance of May Day today and said the new ‘Mantra’ should be — “Labourers, unite the world” as against “Workers of the World, Unite”, the slogan which used to be raised earlier.

“The situation has changed. The biggest cementing factor is the sweat of the workers who can unite the world,” he said, noting that those who used to raise slogans of uniting the workers have been “losing ground the world over”.

The Prime Minister said that his visit to Ballia to launch the Ujjwal Yojana had nothing to do with the Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh due next year. “We have not come here to sound the poll bugle. That is for the people to do,” he said.

Modi said he had visited Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh to announce such schemes where no elections were to be held. “I went to Haryana to launch the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padao’ scheme …. as the male-female ratio there had dipped,” he said.

“I chose Ballia to launch the Ujjwala Yojana because there were very few people with gas connection here. Eight out of 100 families have gas connection here,” he said, adding that the eastern part of India — from eastern UP and Bihar to Assam, the northeast, West Bengal and Odisha, has to be developed to root out poverty from the country.

Modi said earlier the MPs used to get 25 gas connection coupons to be distributed in their constituencies each year and there were reports that some used to sell these coupons.

“But, now I want to provide gas connections to five crore families by 2019 when we would celebrate 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi,” the Prime Minister said.

Maintaining that 1.10 crore families have given up LPG subsidies, he said in all these years, only 13 crore families across the country had gas connection and added that his government has given three crore connections in one year itself.

Modi said his government has made several changes in the labour laws and labour relations to provide social security to millions of workers across the country.

He said the minimum guaranteed pension now has risen to Rs 1,000 per month, compared to a meagre Rs 15 or Rs 100 earlier. Similarly, positive changes have been made in laws or rules relating to bonus and provident fund, he said.

Labour laws have been rationalised and a Labour Identity Number is now being given to the workers to ensure their social security, besides insurance, healthcare and pension to construction workers, the Prime Minister said.