Prime Minister Narendra Modi today announced a Rs. 1.25 lakh crore development package for Bihar. He said an additional Rs. 40,000 crore was also being invested in the state through various projects under implementation.
He was speaking at the launch of several development projects at Ara in Bihar. The Prime Minister unveiled plaques for the dedication to the nation and foundation stones of 11 National Highway projects. He also inaugurated 22 Skill Training Centres, and unveiled the foundation stone for Regional Vocational Training Institute for women, Patna.
The Prime Minister said the projects being launched today would transform the face of Bihar in the days to come. He said his Government does not think in compartments.
Focus on Farmers’ welfare
The Prime Minister said farmer welfare is essential for agriculture to develop. He said the Agriculture Ministry was now being renamed and reoriented as the Ministry for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare.
"It is almost 70 years since we gained independence, but nobody talked of the farmers. To this end, the Central Agriculture department is working on specific plans to lift the farm and agriculture sector. I assure you, such a vigorous plan to benefit millions in the farm sector of the country has not been conceived to date," Modi said.
For farmer’s welfare, the Centre has earmarked Rs 3,094 crore and the funds will go for Up-gradation of Rajendra Prasad Agriculture University to Central University, creation of new Research Centre, Development of Fisheries, Farm water management, Storage capacity, Farm mechanisation, Seed production systems and Construction of new Godowns for foodgrains.
Along with farmers’ welfare, employment generation was yet another focus area."This package proves I am a man who delivers what he promises. We will make a sea change in Bihar. We have taken up the task to upgrade skills of crores of youth to create employment and stop migration. Skill development will change the face of this country like never before," Modi said.
The Prime Minister said that for India to progress, the eastern part of India had to move forward.
The unveiling of the package was in line with the NDA’s strategy of showcasing its development agenda to counter the traditional caste-based politics of the state as it battles a united four-party opposition bloc led by chief minister Nitish Kumar in the possible October elections.
Modi said the Centre would fully support initiatives to connect Bihar’s interiors and fast-track development projects to stop migration from a state where investment has been hobbled by creaky infrastructure and potholed roads. The Centre has plans to link banks to skill needs and finance entrepreneurship, the PM added.
He also reiterated his latest slogan: "Start Up India, Stand Up India", to kickstart industrial employment creation, necessary for the state to shed its notorious BIMARU status – a cluster of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, with poor socio-economic indicators.
"As long as the eastern states of Bihar, North East, Bengal, UP and Jharkhand do not develop, India will never develop. The Centre’s intent is to provide skills to crores of youth so that they work to create a vibrant, emerging India which will be respected globally," he said.
Electoral Politics Vs Development
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had realised during Lok Sabha elections last year that it would be difficult for him to taken on NDA alone. So he mended fences with arch-rival Lalu Prasad. Opinion polls and political pundits give the’ Mahagadbandhan’ the Janata Dal (United) – Rashtriya Janata Dal – Congress combine an edge over the BJP and allies in polls, scheduled to be held in October.
One of India’s most backward states, high crime rate and spiraling corruption has nixed development projects in Bihar for years with industrialists shying away from investing due to fears of political interference and hooliganism. Tough electoral battle has made BJP jittery. The party wants to scuttle the traditional caste and religion equations on its development agenda. To push this agenda the Prime Minister laid foundation stones for 11 national highway projects at Ara, the headquarters of Bhojpur district, which will span 700 kms across 15 districts and cost an estimated Rs 9,700 crore, and 22 skill centres, including an exclusive one for women in Patna.