MHOW, April 14 (IANS): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday launched the 'Gram Uday Se Bharat Uday' campaign to promote rural development on the 125th birth anniversary of B.R. Ambedkar and said the late leader fought for equality and dignity in society.
"It is my privilege that I am here on the birth anniversary of Dr. Ambedkar. I bow to this land. He (Ambedkar) fought against injustice in society. His fight was for equality and dignity," Modi said, addressing a rally organised at Ambedkar's birthplace here.
'Gram Uday Se Bharat Uday Abhiyan' -- village self-governance campaign -- aims to generate nationwide efforts to increase social harmony across villages, strengthen Panchayati Raj institutions, promote rural development, and foster farmers' progress. The campaign will continue till April 24, the Panchayati Raj Day.
Launching a veiled attack on the Congress, Modi said nobody had stopped those who were in power for 60 years from building a memorial to Ambedkar after his death.
"The country saw many governments in these 60 years since Dr. Ambedkar's death. Who had stopped them from building a memorial?"
"We were fortunate to get an opportunity to build his memorial. Now they are upset with this too. In fact, these people should regret and introspect that why they did not do it," Modi said.
Opposition parties, including the Congress, Janata Dal-United, and others had attacked the government in the recent past for ignoring the villages and not taking up the cause of the Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes with the required earnest.
"Few people are distressed over why is Modi talking about the legacy of Dr. Ambedkar. I want to tell them that he is a source of inspiration for us. We look up to him as we believe that he established the highest values of socialism and equality in our society," the prime minister said.
"Babasaheb Ambedkar was the second name of determination. He never drifted away from his path of working for the Dalits and backwards despite facing insults," Modi said.
"With his treasure of wisdom and degrees from some of the world's famous universities, he had several opportunities for his own growth but he left them due to his ambition to do something for the society," Modi said.
The prime minister laid stress on development of villages for the growth of the country and said the focus of this year's union budget was on villages and farmers.
"All our development initiatives have to be centered around rural development."
Modi also committed to provide five crore poor families with new LPG connections in the next three years.
He said more than 90 lakh families gave up subsidies on his call and the economical benefit that the government has got from it will be passed on to the real beneficiaries.
"More than one crore families belonging to the poor sections of the society got LPG connections last year. This has never happened before... so many people were benefited in the span of just a year."
"It was a pilot project and after its success, we announced that we will provide five crore families with new LPG cylinders in the next three years," Modi said.
He also laid stress on digital connectivity in villages. "This is difficult to do, but we need to make a start somewhere."
Modi said he wanted the income of farmers to double in the next few years.
"Purchasing power of people in rural India has to increase and this will power India's economy. Give our farmers adequate water and see the wonders our farmers can do."
He complimented Madhya Pradesh Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan "for chalking out a comprehensive roadmap to double the income of farmers by 2022 in the state".