The Uttar Pradesh Congress on Sunday accused the BJP of tricking the poor into voting for it during the assembly elections in name of free food grains given to them during the Covid pandemic and now forcing them to surrender their ration cards.
The party made the allegation amid the state government's ongoing drive to verify the eligibility of ration cardholders. In a press conference, Congress MLA Aradhana Mishra and other state party leaders also demanded a White Paper from the government on the controversy over the verification of the eligibility of ration cardholders.
Mishra said the party will also raise the issue during the UP assembly budget session beginning Monday. The BJP government has cheated the poor in the name of free ration for electoral gains, Mishra alleged in the press conference.
"It exposes the real character and face of the BJP," she added. She said the BJP leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi have been harping during the assembly elections on how their governments in various states have been distributing free rations during the Covid pandemic.
It now transpires that it was done just for elections, she alleged. "Under the new rules, only those people who do not own any land or a pucca house or a buffalo, bullock, tractor trolley or motorcycle will be eligible for ration,” Mishra claimed.
The new rules have made people even doing poultry farming or rearing cows or getting any financial assistance from the government ineligible for the ration, she alleged.
In an official communication, UP Food Commissioner Sourav Babu, however, said the allegation that the government has issued orders asking people to surrender their ration cards is a rumour. He said the people’s eligibility for having a ration card continues to be governed by an earlier order of October 7, 2014, which is still in force.
He sought to clarify that no ration cardholder can be declared ineligible on the basis of having a pucca house or electricity connection or arms license or a motorcycle or for rearing poultry or cows under the government scheme. The food commissioner further said there has been no order for any recovery of distributed rations from its beneficiaries or ineligible cardholders as no such legal provision exists in the National Food Security Act, 2013.
Asked earlier if the state government has issued any order to ineligible ration card holders to surrender their cards, Additional Chief Secretary (Information) Navneet Sehgal had said no such directive was issued. "The government is only verifying them (ration cards). The verification drive of ration cards is an ongoing process. If anybody is surrendering it, it is purely their own decision and they are doing it voluntarily," Sehgal had said. He had also added that in place of the surrendered cards, new eligible beneficiaries will get the ration cards.
(With PTI inputs)