Patna, Feb 2 (Calcutta Tube) Unimpressed with Bihar’s growth rate of 11.03 percent, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi Tuesday said the state remained unchanged and the Nitish Kumar-led government had failed to take the benefits of development funds to the poor.
Gandhi slammed the Janata Dal-United government for its failure to properly implement central government-sponsored development programmes, particularly the rural job guarantee scheme. He said middlemen were eating away the money meant for poor.
‘Bihar government has failed in implementation of the NREGA (National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) and middlemen are taking away 20 percent of money,’ Gandhi told reporters here on the last day of his two-day visit to Bihar.
Gandhi’s Bihar visit that began Monday is aimed at galvanising the state Congress unit for the assembly elections later this year.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who often uses the catchline of ‘inclusive growth’, got an encouraging boost last month when statistics put Bihar’s growth (11.03) ahead of the national average at 8.49 percent. Bihar is next to Gujarat, according to the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO).
But the Congress MP was not impressed. He said the face of Bihar had not changed in the last four years. ‘The change that Bihar needs is not happening. The money of NREGA was not reaching to poorest in villages.’
He did not criticise Nitish Kumar’s intentions but said lack of proper delivery of development schemes was visible.
‘I agree that Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s intention is good. The problem is not of intention but implementation and delivery in Bihar.
‘After visiting villages in Bihar it was clear that the benefits are not reaching the end users, everybody knows it. Nitish Kumar knows it,’ Gandhi said.
The Congress MP said money was not the issue, but that the delivery system needed to be checked to take the benefits to the poor.
He said schools and hospitals in rural Bihar were not functioning properly. ‘Money meant for education and health are not reaching the schools and health centres in villages.’
He compared Bihar with the Congress-ruled states of Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan where he said implementation of social welfare schemes was better.
‘The Congress-led governments focus is to deliver to poorest of the poor.’
He refuted the allegations that the central government was biased against Bihar saying there was no lack of assistance to the state from the centre.
He said the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had given more money to Bihar than the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
‘The UPA government provided Rs.96,000 crore for development in comparison to only Rs.50,000 crore during the NDA. It will increaser further.’