Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi recently highlighted development and poverty during his address at election rally in run up to Madhya Pradesh Assembly polls. Rahul Gandhi’s statement may contradict his own views. Probable Congress prime ministerial candidate Rahul Gandhi’s statement that development should not be carried out at the cost of dignity of poor and Tribals is strange. According to his views, roads shouldn’t be constructed with an aim to drive cars smoothly and the poor feel insulted. Are roads built keeping in mind that people hailing from economically weaker section can’t use them. Undoubtedly, people of India are reeling under abject poverty and malnutrition and government’s duty is to work on priority basis to get rid of these problems. But it’s unfair to say that whatever is being done in the name of development is an insult to the poor. Criticizing the BJP, Rahul claimed that NDA built only 2,650 km of roads during its tenure, while UPA-I constructed 9,570 km. But in its affidavit presented in the Supreme Court, the UPA had said that during 1997-2002, 23,814 km was added to the national highway network. His claim that Madhya Pradesh government is far behind in power generation has no factual basis. Madhya Pradesh is in league of selected states which is free from electricity crunch.

However, Rahul’s statement bears significance that our main priority should be feeding the poor but the truth is that hunger can’t be eradicated without bringing development. Giving credit to UPA government for bringing Food Security Law, the Congress vice-president claimed that the pet legislation will remove hunger death and malnutrition in the country. It would have been better had the Congress leader spelt the time frame during which hunger death and malnutrition will remove?   

Congress has been ruling the country most of the time since Independence and the party has taken no concrete step to solve the problem of hunger and malnutrition. It was already being assumed that the Congress will use Food Security Bill to derive electoral mileage. During his election campaign in Madhya Pradesh, Rahul Gandhi was seen vouching for the Food Security Bill but he seemed to have forgotten that merely making a law is not essentially a panacea for all problems. Had it happened, the country would have got rid of its multitude of problems. Laws can be effective only if the system functions in a proper way and for that, one needs to be well aware with the ground realities. Rahul Gandhi should realize the fact that mere talking would not bear results and far-sightedness is one of the major prerequisites to bring development in its actual sense. Rahul is adopting the same tradition of Congress which sees its political benefit in letting the poor in same state. If it’ not so, why the Congress could not uplift the poor despite being in power at the Centre for over 45 years? If Congress believes that it can win the confidence of poor by making them continuously feel about their problems and worries, it would be nothing but a big misconception of the party. The way Rahul has tagged Madhya Pradesh as university of corruption is pretty ridiculous. Before pointing fingers towards BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh, Rahul should have had a look at the numerous scams and scandals which surfaced during the UPA regime. If Central government is looking completely ineffective today, corruption is one of the major reasons behind it.

It has become nature of our politicians to show sympathy towards farmers, poor and Scheduled Tribes by highlighting their problems during elections. In this process, they don’t even hesitate to mention the fact that only well-to-do sections of population benefit from the so-called developmental schemes and the poor and weaker section are left to fend on their own. That in turn the poor think that development is being carried out at cost of their interest. This seems to be one of the reasons behind Naxal problem. If this perception is not changed, the rift between rich and poor will only get wider day by day. The problem can’t be solved by holding the rich and industrialists responsible for the mess. Leaders like Rahul Gandhi need to take a note of the fact that it was only development which uplifted the condition of poor. The prosperity of middle-class section is based on development. If the government adopts effective and result-oriented policies, the poverty alleviation can be expedited. It’s indeed disappointing that politicians often tend to give out this message that developmental programmes are introduced only to render benefit to the industrialists.

Whenever talks of land acquisition related to infrastructure development surface, it’s tried to mention that these are done only to help industrialists earn profit and the poor residents of that area are going to suffer loss. Due to this very reason, several programmes are yet to see light of the day. Has anyone ever imagined that how industries will be set up if lands are not acquired? By invoking both the poor and the industrialists against each other, politicians are using the economically weaker section as vote bank. In fact politicians are deep sunk in the alleged luxury, with which they associate the industrialists and play with the emotions of poor. The poor also need to realize the fact that they cannot make both ends meet only on government assistances and subsidies. They need to become self-reliant. If they believe that the schemes and programmes launched by the government are going to help them in leading a pretty decent life, nothing substantial is going to happen. If the politicians keep on creating gap divide between the rich and poor by their speeches then it may eventually go on to create a bigger problem than the communal violence. It would be better not to put the poor and the nation in dark for getting electoral mileage.

(An original copy of the article published in Hindi on October 20, 2013 translated by the English editorial. The author is the Group Editor of Dainik Jagran)