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Centre to extend key schemes to all villages: Amit Shah

BJP chief Amit Shah in New Delhi on Tuesday.Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

New Delhi: Inspired by the success of extending seven key flagship programmes to more than 16,500 backward villages of India, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah on Tuesday said the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government would expand the programme to cover all villages of the country before the 2019 general elections.

The Gram Swaraj Abhiyan, which was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 14 April, aims to ensure that least developed villages in another 115 districts were covered by programmes like electricity, health and insurance for all by 15 August, the BJP president said.

Shah’s comments came days before the BJP-led NDA government is set to enter its last year in office before going to polls in 2019. Consecutive years of record harvests have led to a steep fall in crop prices fuelling agrarian distress.

The Gram Swaraj Abhiyan mainly aims to improve the socio-economic indices of India’s villages that are lagging behind in key sectors like health, financial inclusion and electricity connections.

On 14 April — the birth anniversary of B.R. Ambedkar, seen as a key figure behind the drafting of the Indian Constitution— Modi had launched the scheme, modifying his earlier slogan of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas” (inclusive development for all) to “Sabka Saath, Sabka Gaon, Sabka Vikas” (inclusive development of all villages for all), according to a post on the panchayati raj ministry website.

The aim of the scheme is to “promote social harmony, spread awareness about pro-poor initiatives of government, reach out to poor households to enrol them as also to obtain their feedback on various welfare programmes. As a special endeavour during the Gram Swaraj Abhiyan, saturation of eligible households/persons would be made under seven flagship pro-poor programmes,” the post said.

“With the efforts of the Narendra Modi government, now every home in the 16,850 villages has access to electricity, cooking gas, and insurance protection. LED bulbs have also been distributed under the Ujjwala Yojana,” Shah said.

“Now we will ensure power connection, cooking gas connections and opening of new bank accounts and full coverage of all other welfare schemes in 45,000 villages of the 115 most backward districts in the country whose population is above 1,000 and who have been left untouched by development so far by August 15, 2018,” he said.

“We are aiming to extend this experiment to all villages by next elections,” he said.

Neetu Chandra Sharma contributed to this story.

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