In rhetoric versus development, the latter eventually wins

Two developments of Sunday stand out for their contrasting nature. The first was a public rally the Congress had organised in the national capital to highlight the growing “people’s anger” against the Modi Government. The second was the Government’s announcement that all 597,464 inhabited villages of the country had been electrified under a Central Government initiative.

The Congress’s meeting had a big turnout and top leaders including Sonia Gandhi and party president Rahul Gandhi addressed the gathering. The senior brass of the party said the people were furious with the Modi regime’s failures to provide jobs, ensure safety of women, protection to the marginalised sections of society such as the Scheduled Caste community, and tackle the agrarian crisis. All of these are abstract allegations and none is backed by statistics, present or comparative.

There may be elements of apprehension in the minds of people over some of the issues raised at the Congress event, but it is doubtful if they have taken the shape of public anger of the kind to summarily displace the incumbent regime in the next Lok Sabha election. In any case, it requires more than just public anger for a party to win an election; that anger needs to be tapped through a sound organisation and effective leadership. On the other hand, the electrification of all villages is a matter of record, not rhetoric.

When the Modi Government took over in May 2014, a total of 18,452 villages were without electricity as they had not been connected to the national grid. The Prime Minister had on August 15, 2014, set a 1,000-day deadline to electrify all villages mentioned in the census. Now that every inhabited village has been given power supply, the next step would be for respective State Governments to ensure that electricity reaches every single household in these villages. The inhabitants must also be proactive in demanding that this happens.

Not just that, agencies must go beyond the strict definition of   ‘electrification’ — for now, a village is considered electrified if 10 per cent of its households and public places have access to power supply. The arrival of electricity in village homes which had remained neglected since independence, marks nothing less than a revolution in the lives of people who are the beneficiaries. Instead of going to town whipping up passions over the supposed rising anger of the people against the BJP-led NDA regime at the Centre, the Congress must answer why its self-claimed pro-poor policies did nothing over the decades its ruled the country, to bring millions of people out of the dark.

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