Pro-people policies at core of Chhattisgarh’s progress
When we came to power on December 17, 2018, we knew that the massive mandate was for a change in the governance and policies.
In the last few months, I visited Himachal Pradesh many times as part of a political assignment and closely observed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) campaign. It came as a surprise to see a government with almost nothing to showcase after five years. A prominent BJP advertisement, published in local newspapers, had five key advertising points, only one of which was an accomplishment. The rest were just matters “principally approved” by the Centre. Even the manifesto was surprising. The first promise was to implement a common civil code in the state. To me, it felt like the incumbent was challenging the political wisdom and foresight of the people of Himachal Pradesh.
My experience also gave me an opportunity to revisit four years of the Congress government in Chhattisgarh, a stark contrast. When we came to power on December 17, 2018, we knew that the massive mandate was for a change in the governance and policies. Expectations were high and there were many challenges.
The farmers are the biggest community in the state, and most vulnerable in terms of the impact of governance measures. Our main challenge was to bring them out of the vicious cycle of debt and provide them something to make agriculture profitable. We began with a loan waiver of around ₹9,000 crore for 1.9 million farmers. Purchasing paddy at ₹2,500 per quintal was another milestone. The Centre – which promised doubling of farmers’ income by 2022 – was against our policy. Their goal was to render us optionless, but we wanted to keep the promises we made to the farmers. We introduced the Rajiv Gandhi Kisan Nyay Yojana and started giving input subsidies to paddy, sugarcane, and maize farmers. We have provided ₹16,401 crore of input subsidy to 2.6 million farmers. During 15 years of the BJP in Chhattisgarh, farmers were pushed to suicide. Today, farmers are the happiest.
Chhattisgarh is blessed with 44% forest cover and 32% of the state is tribal. A commonplace story of Chhattisgarh is of Maoist violence, especially in Bastar. With our new pro-people policies, we have changed the scenario and today’s Bastar is far more peaceful. Violence has dropped significantly and there are more employment opportunities for tribals. The decision to purchase 65 minor forest produces under MSP, up from the seven earlier, hike remuneration per tendu leaf bag from ₹2,500 to ₹4,000, and a drive against malaria have helped.
For the betterment of the generations to come, we turned our attention to education. We reopened schools in tribal regions that were shut due to Maoist violence. The goal of free, fair, and equitable education is being achieved through the Swami Atmanand English Medium School Scheme. We opened schools on every block, and its success led to 247 English-medium schools, 32 Hindi-medium schools, and a proposed total of 422 schools from the next academic session.
To restore the autonomy and agency of our villages, revalue their assets and produce and complete utilisation of natural resources, Narwa Garwa Ghuruwa Bari was introduced. It has since been the primary theme of our government. With schemes such as Godhan Nyay Yojana and the Rural Industrial Park Scheme, we are making visible changes in the rural economy.
Mahatma Gandhi had a vision to empower villages and make decisions that benefit the last person in the line. We are committed to reaching the last mile and making people happy. We are reaching tribals, farmers, children and rural residents, and I wish to see a more prosperous Chhattisgarh in the coming years.
Bhupesh Baghel is chief minister of Chhattisgarh
The views expressed are personal
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