In a move that is being referred to as the Gandhian model of 'Gram Swaraj', the Chhattisgarh government has waived farms loans and is in the process of building more cow shelters and making subsidised ration available to the poor in the villages to give a boost to the rural economy.
The state is also in the process of increasing bonus to the 'tendu patta' collectors and decreasing by half the bills for the usage of up to 400 units of electricity.
Speaking about prioritising the rural economy, Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel told IANS that his party came to power in the state by following the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi, and he will work towards realising his idea of 'Gram Swaraj'.
Stray animals are a growing challenge in the state, which has 1.28 crore animals, 30 lakh of which are stray. With 30,000 acre of land provided the villagers themselves, the government has built 2,000 shelters so far and plans to add another 1,000 by the next year, said an official in the Chief Minister's Office.
He informed that residents of Kandel village in Dhamtari district have built a cow shelter without any government help. "Kandel village also has a historic significance. The villagers here had started a movement against canal water levy imposed by the British in which Mahatma Gandhi has also participated," said the official.
On the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on October 2, the state government started the week-long Gandhi Vichar Yatra from Kandel. The state-wide Yatra will be followed by a week-long Yatra covering all the blocks in the state.
"The state's government's Gram Swaraj model aims to reach the last person in every village for which the Chief Minister launched five schemes related to nutrition, retail, health, and ration on October 2," said the official.
"Only if people have money will their buying power increase, which will then help improve the economy. And this is what we are trying to do," the official added.
However, the opposition is seeing politics in the Congress government's efforts. "The BJP has never tried to divide the people in the name of nationalism, unlike the Congress, which is using cattle and Gandhi to do so," said former chief minister Raman Singh.
Poonam Chandrakar, head of BJP's state Kisan Morcha said: "There is no arrangement of fodder and water in these cowsheds and cows are dying. The cowsheds are in bad condition and the state government is busy playing politics."
(With agency inputs.)