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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 17 July 2024

In interaction with ‘labharthi’, Modi wishes to make two crore women ‘lakhpati didis’

Modi was interacting with Rubina, also a ‘labharthi’, a term given currency by the Modi regime to describe beneficiaries of the government’s welfare schemes, as part of the ongoing Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra

J.P. Yadav New Delhi Published 28.12.23, 06:12 AM
PM Narendra Modi.

PM Narendra Modi. File Photo.

Rubina Khan, a poor labourer-turned-small time entrepreneur from Dewas in Madhya Pradesh, had a hearty laugh on Wednesday, sparked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Rubina told Modi that with a paltry Rs 5,000 loan she started selling clothes from her home and as her business grew over the years and could not be handled with either a cycle or a motorcycle, she purchased a second-hand Maruti van. “You own a Maruti van! I don’t even have a bicycle,” Modi quipped over a video link with Rubina, leading the lady to burst into incredulous laughter. Modi could do nothing better than join in himself.

Modi was interacting with Rubina, also a ‘labharthi’, a term given currency by the Modi regime to describe beneficiaries of the government’s welfare schemes, as part of the ongoing Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra, a government programme that appears to have been transformed into a poll campaign gambit in the run-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

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Under the government-sponsored yatra, hundreds of vehicles christened “Modi ki guarantee wali gadi” (Modi’s guarantee vehicles) are crisscrossing the country with the stated objective of saturating welfare schemes by enrolling those left out. In effect, these government vehicles are furthering the BJP’s 2024 election slogan of “Modi ki guarantee…”

After Rubina narrated her inspiring story, Modi told her: “Rubina ji, I have a dream. Will you help me in fulfilling the dream?” “Ji Sir…,” she replied. “In the near future, I wish to make at least 2 crore women, associated with self-help groups, ‘lakhpati didis’ (sisters worth at least one lakh rupees),” Modi offered.

“Tell me, how you can help me in this (endeavour). How many didis from your district can we make into lakhpati didis?’” the PM asked. Rubina’s reply appeared to have stumped Modi. “I wish all my didis in the country turn into lakhpati didis,” she said, making Modi laugh loudly. “Aap to bade political jawab deti hain (You give very political replies)," Modi remarked.

Spotting a large crowd of women dressed in blue sarees that looked like a uniform, Modi asked those who wanted to become “lakhpati didis” to raise their hands. All hands went up spontaneously. “Dekhiye, mere paas bahut kaam hai. Agar aap mere saath khade rahenge to aap sab lakhpati ban sakte hain (Look, I have a lot of work (for you). If you stand with me, then you all can become lakhpatis),” Modi said, seeking to obliquely secure the backing of the self-help group women with the Lok Sabha polls just months away. “We all are with you,” Rubina replied.

Modi moved to the next person lined up for interacting with him without elaborating how he plans to make the women lakhpatis. The government’s Lakhpati Didi programme is aimed at training women in self-help groups so that they can earn a sustainable income of at least Rs 1 lakh per annum per household and Modi seemed to be referring to that. Under the scheme the government has also started training women as skilled drone operators and entrepreneurs.

Modi has been exploiting the ongoing VBS yatra to frequently interact with “labharthis” of government schemes across different states with the “Modi ki guarantee wali gadi” in the backdrop. The yatra started on November 15 and is scheduled to continue till January 25. He has been using these interactions to woo the support of lakhs of women associated with self-help groups. Rubina told Modi the SHG she was associated with had 1.03 lakh members.

The yatra initially generated a lukewarm response. This paper had done a story early this month on how Modi had looked crestfallen when a woman sarpanch of a village in Jammu told him during one such interaction that only 250-300 people out of the total population of 4,700 had turned up to welcome the “Modi ki guarantee” vehicle.

In recent times, however, pushed by Modi, the ruling party machinery has been pressed into service to squeeze political mileage out of the government-funded yatra. Ministers and BJP leaders have been tasked to specific regions across the country to organise big crowds to welcome the Modi guarantee vehicles.

Modi interacted with five “labharthis” across various states on Wednesday, starting with Tripura and moving on to Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu and finally Rajasthan. “I want to make another request. I want the didis associated with you (in the self-help group) to travel to villages and tell residents about Modi ki guarantee vehicles. I want the events to be big with participation of many more so that others get the benefit of welfare schemes like you do,” Modi told Sapna Prajapati from Kota in Rajasthan.

“I am continuously looking for people who have been left out,” he said, addressing crowds gathered at different locations virtually. He hailed the yatra for enrolling those left out, claiming that 4.5 lakh new applications have been filed for free gas connections under the Ujjwala scheme, 1 crore health insurance cards have been issued, 70 lakh people have been screened for tuberculosis and 15 lakh sickle cell anaemia tests have been conducted. He did not say how many cases of sickness have been found but stressed that the tests will spread awareness regarding health in the country.

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