BHOPAL: The Madhya Pradesh government's plan to distribute ration in bags bearing the pictures of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and state Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan from the next month has not gone down well with the opposition Congress, which on Wednesday dubbed the move a "personal branding" of BJP leaders at the cost of real beneficiaries.
The state government is organising 'Ann Utsav' on August 7, which will be virtually addressed by PM Modi.
A public relations department official has said that the ration will be distributed in bags to 100 beneficiaries each at 25,435 PDS (Public Distribution System) shops in Madhya Pradesh on August 7 during the upcoming "Ann Utsav,".
Justifying the move to print pictures of the prime minister and the CM on the ration bags, MP's Food and Civil Supplies Minister Bisahulal Singh told reporters that ration stock for two months is being provided free by the Centre and for three months by the state government to the eligible families.
"We have decided that the beneficiaries of the PDS will be given rice stock of five months in a bag, at the 'Ann Utsav'. What is wrong in having the photos of the PM given that the Centre is providing free ration to people? Similarly, a ration stock of three months is being given free by the state government," he told reporters on Tuesday.
Singh said the pictures of Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel and the food minister of that state are printed on the ration bags.
"The Union government is providing free ration to Chhattisgarh as well so they should ideally put a picture of the PM on the bags along with that of the chief minister (Baghel)," he said.
Slamming the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government, former minister and Congress MLA PC Sharma said the BJP has failed to provide free ration to intended beneficiaries but is doing the personal branding of the party leaders.
"They are organising such programmes to dish out huge figures of beneficiaries of PDS for the PR work. The truth is that lakhs of BPL (Below Poverty Line) beneficiaries in Madhya Pradesh are yet to receive the ration of five months as announced earlier. Several such applications are pending with the district administration," Sharma claimed while speaking to PTI.
He alleged that the reality and the figures put out by the state government are contradictory.
"Farmers are committing suicide due to mounting loan burden in the state," he alleged.
Madhya Pradesh BJP secretary Rajneesh Agrawal said the bags will bear the pictures of the PM and the CM and not of the state unit party president.
"This is well under the Constitutional arrangement," he said.
Refuting Congress' allegations, Agrawal said ration is being given continuously to beneficiaries and the distribution is monitored.
"States ruled by Congress are in the dock over the issue of providing benefits to the poor under the PDS system. The Congress is anti-poor. They gave the slogan to eliminate poverty but they cannot see the good work in this direction," he said.