By Manish Anand
New Delhi, February 7: In 2010, Union Ministry of Rural Development had arranged a field visit of Delhi-based journalists to Kheda district in Odisha. The purpose was to see the flagship schemes of the ministry in action. Predictably, all was good except for the fact that the claims were denied when the officials gained confidence to talk freely.
“Villagers here don’t come forth in a large number to seek jobs under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Scheme (MGREGS),” said a state official from the rural department. The villages to which the scribes were taken were around Bhubansewar-Puri.
While sipping sweet coconut waters, another rural department official of Odisha said: “Each family here gets no less than 25 kg of rice free a month. They grow vegetables, and thus they are free. Fish is aplenty and caught free of cost. What should they work for?”
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik perfected the art of building rich vote back with free rice scheme. It was replicated by Raman Singh for 15 years in the neighbouring Odisha. Patnaik no more has a copyright on free grains plan to win elections. Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a leaf out of the playbook of Patnaik and Singh to tank the houses of the people with grains by beefing up their stocks with additional free 5 kg each person a month (10 kg now as 5 kg also comes from National Food Security Act).
Modi unleashed a vicious attack on India’s first Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru. Quoting from his 1959 speech from the Red Fort, Modi claimed that Nehru called the people of the country idlers and lazy. A few days ago, a seemingly BJP mouthpiece news portal broadcast an interesting editorialized news package with bottom-line that it was not Mahatma Gandhi who won India the freedom from the British. In fact, as per the celebrity anchor of the news portal, the British was without the military manpower after the World War II in numbers to rule over India. Thus, she argued that the British left India on own.
In the saffron laboratory, Gandhi and Nehru are blamed for all the ills of the country. But the social media platforms while allow the trolls to set the wildfire with selective distortion of facts also provides ample scope to douse the fire.
Kumar Vishwas is now largely known as a BJP sympathizer. He was the founding member of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Vishwas with his eloquence gave wings to the Anna Hazare movement at the Jantar Mantar and the Ram Lila Ground against corruption.
In one of the old videos of Vishwas now doing the rounds, Vishwas redicules those who dare to attack Nehru. He reminds that the IITs, IIMs, etc., all are because of Nehru. Vishwas further says: “A young poet Nagarjuna aired his anger at Nehru in his presence, reciting ‘watan ko bech diya aur shish jhukate ho Gandhi ke Samadhi par (sold the country and yet bows before Gandhi’s cemetery). Nehru was not angered by the poetry, and he didn’t send the ED (Enforcement Directorate) to Nagarjuna.”