What it takes to get people at PM’s rallies: MP shows the way
The culmination of a ‘Padayatra’ on Monday in Madhya Pradesh, attended by PM Narendra Modi, prompted Madhya Pradesh Government to mobilise 3,000 or more buses to ferry people, some from 900 km away
What does it take to mobilise people for rallies attended by the Prime Minister? For possibly the first time, documents have surfaced in Madhya Pradesh which provide some insight but not the complete picture.
- One of the documents reveals that funds were released to 51 districts for ‘buses deployed for the ‘Namami Devi Narmade’ rally at Amarkantak addressed by the Prime Minister on Monday.
- Another document gives the break-up of the number of buses each district will have to mobilise, ranging from 350 buses each from Indore and Bhopal and, 200 buses each from Satna and Bhopal.
- A total of 2,885 buses are shown in the list for 31 districts (MP has 71 districts in all).
- Assuming 40 passengers travelled in each bus, 2,885 buses would have ferried 1.15 lakh people.
- Curiously, funds and buses appear to have been allotted to almost all the districts, including Jhabua (925 km away), Badwani (874 km away), Bhind (784 km away) and Bhopal (524 km away).
- Even more curiously, while the rally was meant to be the culmination of a ‘padayatra’ (Narmada Seva Yatra), people were ferried, at least on paper, from all over the state. How they were selected is still not clear.
- A communication from Dr Atul Srivastav (see copy), state programming officer, Swachh Bharat Mission, reveals that a sum of ₹500 had been sanctioned for each motivator for persuading people to attend training at Shahdol.
- Each motivator and participant, says yet another document, would be entitled to receive a T-shirt and a ‘gamcha’ (cotton towel) as well, produced by MP Rural Livelihood Mission.
The documents also suggest that a sum of ₹17 crore had been sanctioned from the budget of Swachh Bharat Mission for transportation alone. Since the district administration of Singrauli, alone, (120 buses) had asked for a sum of ₹85.6 lakh for transportation, the actual expenditure on transportation is likely to be much higher than what appears to have been sanctioned.
Doubts have also been expressed over another communication from Development Commissioner Radheyshyam Julania, which suggests that only ₹2.84 crore have been sanctioned for participation of people at the function, where the Prime Minister and the chief minister would be inspiring people to clean and conserve rivers.
The controversy has triggered a debate on the use of public funds to essentially political ends. The Madhya Pradesh Government would be hard put to even name the hundred thousand people or more, said critics, who attended the rally as people engaged in cleaning and conservation of Narmada.
Significantly, the arrangements seem to have been made in a matter of a few weeks, with most communications referred to in this report dated between May 6 and May 12.
- Shivraj Singh Chouhan
- Madhya Pradesh
- Swachh Bharat Mission
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi
- Narmada Sewa Yatra
- Narmada Sewa Mission
- Namami Devi Narmade
- Modi rally
- Namami Devi Narmade rally
- Development Commissioner Radheyshyam Julania
- Dr Atul Srivastav
- MP Rural Livelihood Mission