Taking a swipe at the 'garibi hatao' campaign of Congress, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said those who could not bring any real change in the lives of the poor or even open bank accounts for them during their five-decade rule were now questioning his government.
The prime minister, on his first trip to his Lok Sabha constituency in over eight months, claimed poverty alleviation measures have lacked a proper direction and they are spoken about during election time as a "tradition".
He also took a dig at the critics of his "Jan Dhan Yojana", saying had they helped the poor open bank accounts earlier they would have been spared the worry about operation of the recently opened accounts under the scheme.
"What these people could not do in 50 years, I will do in 50 months, I have come here to tell this," Modi said.
"We have been hearing about 'garibi hatao' for the last 40-50 years. In elections also, we have been hearing about poverty alleviation programmes for poor. It has become a tradition in politics to talk about the poor and their welfare. There is need to come out of this tradition," Modi said.
He said till now all experiments in this regard have not yielded the desired results and "we have not been able to bring the desired changes in the lives of the poor.
"I don't want to blame any government, but want to focus on things that the poor can come out of poverty," Modi said.
The prime minister wondered why none of the educated ever questioned any politician in the past as to why bank accounts were not opened for the poor.
"Banks were nationalised in the country 25 years ago, but it did not help the poor to gain access to these financial institutions.
"No educated person has ever asked any politician why bank accounts were not opened for the poor. It was taken for granted," he said, adding that under the PM's Jan Dhan Yojna over 18 crore bank accounts were opened and the poor have deposited Rs 30,000 crore of their money in such accounts after his government was formed.
"Those who did not open any bank accounts for the poor are today seeking my accountability on the issue. They are worried whether the new bank accounts we opened are operational.
"It would have been much better had these people worked in last 40-50 years to open doors of banks to poverty stricken people. They would not have to asked me such questions today what these people could not do in 50 years, I will do in 50 months, I have come here to tell them this," he said.
Modi stressed on skill development and said if technology is allowed to enter the lives of the poorest of the poor, they can earn more and become self-reliant. He earlier distributed 101 E-rickshaws and another 501 cycle-rickshaws to poor people who never owned a rickshaw in their lifetime.
Modi said this programme is not just to change the lives of a few people but a new beginning that will change the future of 'Kashi' and its poor.
"Due to these things, things will start moving fast and the town will get a new identity and the common man's lives will improve," he said.
This was the prime minister's third visit to the ancient temple town after assuming office in May last.The much-awaited tour comes eight months after his last visit on December 25 last year. Two of his previous proposed visits were cancelled due to heavy rainfall in June and July.
The prime minister said the poor want to give a bright future to their future generations and asked them to ensure that their children are educated. He talked about the skill development initiative by his government and said by enhancing their skills, they can earn better livelihood and bring a change in their life.
"Our attempt is towards this," he said addressing the gathering at a ground in the Cantonment area. "There have been numerous schemes aimed at poverty alleviation but these have not yielded desired results.
"That is where our thrust on skill development and the use of modern technology becomes important," the prime minister said.
Modi earlier shook hands and chatted with some of the beneficiaries who stood beside e-rickshaws decorated with flowers.
"I got a chance to speak to some of those who have been given e-rickshaws today. They have been imparted proper training to drive the vehicle, which they would own within a year or two after repaying loans that have been made available to them on low interest rates," Modi said.
"They are upbeat over the prospect of earning a little more by exerting themselves a little less. And they are now also looking forward to ensure adequate education for their children, which is the cheapest and the surest way to break the vicious cycle of poverty," Modi said.
"We need to appreciate the intelligence of the poor people and their willingness to innovate," he said. The programme organised by Rickshaw Sangh here was also attended by Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik and State Jail Minister Balram Yadav.
Top officials of the America Indian Foundation, which is one of the organisers of the
rickshaw distribution drive, and financial institutions such as IDBI, SIDBI, UCO Bank and Bharatiya Micro Credit shared the stage with the prime minister.