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No unanimous welcome for Modi's proposals for MPs

Posted on Aug 15 2014 | IANS

New Delhi, Aug 15 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi's announcement during his Independence Day speech of Sansaad Adarsh Gram Yojana to develop model villages, and his appeal to parliamentarians to spend funds on building toilets in schools enthused some MPs as "good suggestions" but Congress parliamentarians said it was rephrasing of UPA initiatives.

Modi, in his speech from the ramparts of Red Fort Friday, said that biggest obstruction to development of national character was the filth "seen all around us."

He called for public participation to make every village and city clean by 2019.

Modi said a reason behind girls dropping out from schools in some rural areas was lack of separate toilets. He also referred to women being forced to defecate in open due to lack of toilets.

Modi urged MPs to use funds in Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) for one year for construction of toilets in the schools and said that no school should be left in the country without separate toilets for boys and girls by the next Independence Day.

Modi also announced a scheme named after the parliamentarians- 'Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana' (parliamentarian model village scheme) under which every MP needs to initially develop one village in his or her constituency into a model village.

Modi said he would present the complete blue print of Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana by Jayprakash Narayan's Jayanti in October.

Nationalist Congress Party MP D.P. Tripathi said that Modi had come up with good ideas.

"Modi in his extempore speech has made very practical suggestions. The clean India agenda does not need a loan from the World Bank," Tripathi told IANS.

He said that suggestions for building toilets in schools, and the Sansaad Adarsh Gram Yojana were "very good."

"It will send a good message. As for the scheme for MPs to develop model villages, people in neighbouring villages will also be inspired," he said.

Congress MP from Ernakulam and former union minister K.V. Thomas said that Modi had rephrased some initiatives of United Progressive Alliance government.

Referring to the proposed model village scheme, Thomas said that "there were already way too many schemes for rural improvement which include initiatives to empower villages."

"There is a large number of schemes available in that direction," he said and noted that UPA government had worked consistently for rural empowerment.

Asked about Modi's appeal to construct toilets in schools from MPLADS funds, Thomas said that "there was nothing new."

Congress MP and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said that Modi's speech was repackaging of UPA schemes.

"What Narendra Modi has been doing in last three months, and this speech, it is all re-announcement and repackaging of what UPA has done," Azad told IANS.

"In his speech, he talked about toilets... Total sanitation campaign was started by UPA," Azad said.

Bharatiya Janata Party vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said Modi's initiatives reflect that government was committed to the welfare of the people.

"The model village initiative is a very good initiative which will lead to speeding up of development there... His calll for using the MPLADS fund in building up toilets for girls is a welcome step... Earlier MPs would use their funds in their own ways... But now they will have a clear direction as how to use the funds and that will be helpful in maximising the good works," Naqvi said.

Biju Janata Dal MP from Dhenkanal, Tathagata Satpathy, said that asking MPs to adopt a village "is ridiculous" as all MPs will together will be able to reach out some 800 villages in a year.

"My constituency alone has more than 1700 villages. So, I believe this is just hogwash. There is no imagination or depth of thought and that is my view on his entire speech as well," Satpathy said.

Rashtriya Lok Samata Party chief and union minister Upendra Kushwaha hailed Modi's announcements and suggestions to MPs.

"These are good suggestions and will help speed up progress in rural areas," Kushwaha said.

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