One of the many impressive schemes that PM Modi had announced after storming into power in the year 2014, was the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY), wherein be had exhorted Lok Sabha MPs to “make one village of his or her constituency a Model Village by 2016… after 2016, select two more villages… and after 2019… at least five model villages”. PM Modi had also asked the Rajya Sabha MPs to “adopt one of the villages”. The idea was to create model villages all across India that will inspire the neighbouring villages to follow the model village leading to an unprecedented process of nation-building and development.
Five years down the line, the ambitious scheme has unfortunately turned into a failure with two-thirds of the lawmakers yet to adopt a gram panchayat under Phase-4 of the scheme. In fact, there has been a sustained decline in the number of MPs adopting a village in the successive phases of SAGY. 703 MPs had adopted villages under phase-1 of the scheme. The number went down to 497 in phase-2 and further down to 301 in Phase-3. Since October 11, 2014, when the scheme was announced, only 1,753 gram panchayats have been selected by MPs across all four phases, which is much below the expected number. In Phase-4, only 252 MPs- 44 from the Upper House and 208 from the Lower House have adopted villages by the end of December 2019.
In fact, the scheme seems to have remained sluggish ever since it was announced. It was revealed in July last year that only 56 per cent work was completed under the scheme in the last five years. Till July 2019, only 1,297 village panchayats had provided data, showing that 38,021 projects out of total 68,407 were completed almost five years after the ambitious scheme was launched in the year 2014. Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Odisha- which figure among the top ten states with highest proportion of rural areas, are among the worst performers when it comes to implementation of the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana.
Even in phase-3, 78 per cent of the MPs and ten cabinet ministers were yet to select a village with just nine months to go. Even if some MPs did select a village after that, then the quantum of development that could have been carried out in such a short span of time is a question that ought to be considered.
The poor performance of the scheme can hurt BJP’s prospects in the state of Bihar, especially because Bihar is the second least urbanised state of India, next only to Himachal Pradesh, with 88.71 per cent rural population. SAGY has been implemented miserably in Bihar as only 1,614 out of 4,817 projects were implemented in 82 adopted villages in the state as of July last year. This doesn’t augur well for the BJP going into the Bihar Assembly elections to be held later this year.
While the opposition MPs were never really going to take the SAGY seriously out of political vendetta, the BJP MPs ought to have taken the ambitious scheme seriously. The scheme is dependent on the willingness of the MPs, and therefore the lawmakers were the ones supposed to work towards the implementation of the scheme. The BJP led NDA had won 31 out of 40 seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls in the state of Bihar. BJP alone had won 22 seats in the state, and therefore the scheme wouldn’t have failed in Bihar had the BJP MPs taken it seriously.
Going into Bihar polls, the rural areas might begin questioning the BJP over the poor performance of its MPs when it comes to the Adarsh Gram Yojana. This could hurt the BJP’s prospects especially if the party makes the likely decision to snub the Nitish Kumar led JD (U) and go solo into the Assembly polls.
The MPs depended totally in PM Modi’s pan India popularity to sail through during the elections. Now, the BJP should pull up those MPs who have displayed disinterest and, lack of vision and appetite to deliver the goals of brisk development. No one apart from PM Modi and few other popular faces have performed, and these MPs are only riding on the Prime Minister’s popularity.
With the predominantly rural demography, the BJP could have created several iconic stories in Bihar under the SAGY, had the MPs implemented the scheme properly, that would have come in handy during the Assembly polls. If the BJP wants to stand out in Bihar, and create enough political space for itself to go solo then it must ensure that its MPs gear up and turn this scheme into a game-changer.