(NEWS) Jain's inclusion in ministry shows focus on Bundelkhand : Indian Express

http://static.indianexpress.com/m-images/M_Id_83120_congress.jpg First-time MP Pradeep Jain has been inducted into the central ministry as he is the only Congress MP elected from the drought-prone Bundelkhand region. And the choice is a clear indication of the importance accorded to the area, feels party insiders in the state.

Jain (47), a down-to-earth man, is the kind of young people AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi believes will help rebuild the Congress in UP in time for the next assembly elections — due in 2012.

One of the most backward regions, Bundelkhand has been neglected by successive governments. Poor agriculture, lack of irrigation and drinking water, unemployment, and migration to cities for jobs are some of the perennial problems.

As the Minister of State for Rural Development, Jain should be equipped to take care of the development needs of the region.

Last year, Rahul had visited Bundelkhand and organised protests on local issues. Jain, an MLA from Jhansi, had caught his eye at the time. When the Lok Sabha elections were announced, Rahul ensured that Jain got the party ticket. He also made it a point to address a public meeting in Jhansi.

“Bundelkhand has always been on the agenda of the Central government,” said UP Congress president Rita Bahuguna Joshi. “In the previous government, we were not able to do enough for the region, but with selection of Pradeep Jain, the party leadership has given a clear signal that Bundelkhand’s development will be a priority.”

Joshi said the party was happy with the appointment. "The message is clear — importance will be given to the area which has been neglected by other parties in the past." Like Jain, the inclusion of 45-year-old RPN Singh is also seen as Rahul Gandhi's idea. Another first-time MP, Singh has been the president of the state Youth Congress and represents the Kurmi population.

Explaining the absence of a cabinet minister from UP, a leader said the decision to make Salman Khurshid and Shriprakash Jaiswal ministers of state with independent charges was forced by circumstances.

Initially, it was decided that UP will have a cabinet minister. But choice between Khurshid and Jaiswal was difficult. Then it was realised that some others, like Jairam Ramesh, were similarly placed in terms of seniority, experience and standing as MPs.

If all of them were made cabinet ministers, it would have made the cabinet unwieldy. Joshi said: "Following the kind of pressure that was on the government, Uttar Pradesh has rightly got five berths. Moreover, I must tell all those disappointed that two of our senior leaders have been made ministers of state with independent charge, which is as good as cabinet minister."

Courtesy: Indian Express.