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‘BJP will return in Rajasthan’

Union Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal talks about the BJP’s prospects in the Rajasthan Assembly polls which will be held this year.

Nikhil Vyas | New Delhi |

Arjun Ram Meghwal is Union Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and Culture and is a three-time Member of Parliament (MP) from Bikaner.

Meghwal, a former Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer from Rajasthan, was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 2009. Meghwal, born on 20 December 1953, is a Post-Graduate in Political Science. He is a Law Graduate and has also done MBA from University of Philippines. Meghwal has been a member of various Parliamentary Committees and was awarded the Best Parliamentarian Award in 2013.

Meghwal was the Chief Whip of the BJP in Lok Sabha and the Chairman of House Committee, Lok Sabha from 2014-16. He served as Union Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs from 2016 to 2017; Union Minister of State for Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation and Parliamentary Affairs from 2017 to 2019 and Union Minister of State for Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises and Parliamentary Affairs from 2019 to 2021.

In an interview with Nikhil Vyas, Meghwal talks about the BJP’s prospects in the Rajasthan Assembly polls which will be held this year. The BJP leader also talks about the Union Budget 2023-24.

Q. What are the BJP’s prospects in Rajasthan assembly elections which will be held this year ?
A: BJP contests elections on two grounds. One agenda is ‘good governance’ while the other is ‘development’. In every state election, we go with an agenda of ‘development’ and ‘good governance’. Our agenda remains the same for every assembly poll which includes Rajasthan. At present, development has stopped in Rajasthan and good governance has disappeared. The government in Rajasthan is split into two factions. One is headed by Ashok Gehlot and the other is headed by Sachin Pilot.

And when the government is split into two factions then the public suffers. At present, the government in Rajasthan is weak and is dependent on its MLAs who have become ‘mini Chief Ministers’ in the state. There is a strong anti-incumbency wave against the present government. BJP will form a government in Rajasthan with a huge mandate.

Q. What is your take on this Union Budget 2023-24?
A: The Union Budget 2023-24 presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on February 1 is a step taken in the direction to make India a global leader in the economic field. This Budget will benefit all sections of society.The Budget focuses on seven priorities which complement each other and act as the ‘Saptarishi’ for guidance through the ‘Amrit Kaal’. These are Inclusive Development, Reaching the Last Mile, Infrastructure and Investment, Unleashing the Potential, Green Growth, Youth Power and Financial Sector.

This Budget gives priority to the underprivileged. In order to improve socio-economic conditions of the particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTGs), the Pradhan Mantri PVTG Development Mission will be launched.

This will saturate PVTG families and habitations with basic facilities such as safe housing, clean drinking water and sanitation, improved access to education, health and nutrition, road and telecom connectivity, and sustainable livelihood opportunities. A total of Rs 15,000 crore will be made available to implement the Mission in the next three years under the Development Action Plan for the Scheduled Tribes.

It was also announced in the Budget that in the next three years, the Centre will recruit 38,800 teachers and support staff for the 740 Eklavya Model Residential Schools, serving 3.5 lakh tribal students. An important announcement in the Budget was that the outlay for PM Awas Yojana is being enhanced by 66 per cent to over Rs 79,000 crore. To commemorate Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, a one-time new small savings scheme, Mahila Samman Savings Certificate to be launched. It will offer deposit facility upto Rs 2 lakh in the name of women or girls for tenure of 2 years (up to March 2025) at fixed interest rate of 7.5 per cent with partial withdrawal option.

Q. What is your view on the Opposition which has been repeatedly demanding a JPC probe into the AdaniHindenburg row ?
A: The Finance Minister has already said on the issue that regulators are
doing their work.

Q. What do you have to say on the Opposition charge that the Union Budget 2023-24 is not addressing the real issues of the country, which are unemployment and price rise?
A: The Opposition has not read the Budget. There are many employment opportunities announced in this Union Budget. Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana 4.0, is to be launched to skill lakhs of youth within the next three years covering new age courses for Industry 4.0 like coding, AI, robotics, mechatronics, IOT, 3D printing, drones, and soft skills. A total of 30 Skill Indian International Centres are to be established to train youth for international job opportunities. Comprehensive tourism package for 50 destinations creates direct and indirect jobs.

Q. What is your response to the Opposition criticism that the Budget was presented keeping in mind next year’s Lok Sabha elections?

A: This Budget has not been brought in keeping in mind the next year’s Lok Sabha elections. Our focus is to develop the country and take it forward. If we look at our previous budgets, they were not brought in keeping elections in mind. We have brought reforms in our every Budget.