NEW DELHI: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley wants at least another two decades to provide to provide a quality of life and infrastructure in rural areas that match the urban life.
In an article on comparative study of UPA and NDA governments in improving the rural sector, he said since 1971 onwards, the Congress policy was slogans and not resources while the NDA pumped in resources in the rural areas.
"These resources have improved our infrastructure, are improving the quality of life of people living therein, have increased agricultural productivity and are intended to give a remunerative price to the farmers," he stressed while pointing out that past four and half years were just the beginning as full achievement needs investments at increased pace in the next two decades.
Provocation for him to pen the article was a massive protest march organised in the capital by multiple farmer organisations to express concern over rural distress worsening since the government was ignoring rural India and the agricultural sector.
Jaitley blamed the Congress for not pumping the resources in the agricultural sector that led to agrarian distress and inadequate quality of life in the rural areas
To help the poorest under the rural job employment scheme this year close to Rs 60,000 crore, if not more, would be spent which is almost twice the amount spent by the UPA government, Jaitley said.
He pointed out that for the poorest including rural poor, Rs 1.6 lakh crore have been set aside for the food subsidy. As regards helping the farmers, the MSP (minimum support price) was increased on several crops to ensure "cost plus 50%".
while the interest subvention was doubled.
"Last year (2017-18) a phenomenal amount of Rs. 3,96,831 crore was spent on the poor and rural areas. This year the expenditure is likely to be around Rs.4,38,741 crore. In contrast, UPA had spent Rs. 2,41,602 crore in its last year," Jaitley said to dismiss the Opposition charge that the ruling BJP was not nursing the rural areas since people there did not vote for it.
He then went on to refer to the NDA efforts since Modi came to power. These included rural roads, electrification of houses, 45 lakh houses being built in the rural areas as against 10 lakh during the UPA's final year with target of every rural Indian live in a proper house, sanitation under Swachcha Bharat Yojana, Ujjwala Yojana to provide cooking gas connections to poor househilds, 33.3 crore Jan Dhan bank accounts opened to virtually link every person to the banking system and Mudra loans helped 13 crore households, 54% of them being women.
The rural poor who had inadequate medical facilities all past 67 years since Independence are now assured benefit of the Ayushman Bharat that ensures treatment of a family up to Rs 5 lakh per year at the government's cost, Jaitley said, pointing out that 3.8 lakh people were benefited in the last two months since the scheme started.