Slamming the Centre for its decision to make Aadhaar cards mandatory to avail of facilities, like cooking gas cylinders at subsidised rates, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee expressed her “shock” and opposition to the move, saying here on Friday that “one party cannot continue to be in power forever but the government continues forever.”

“If it [the party in power] does not take care of the people then the people will give a fitting reply,” she cautioned, a remark not without political significance at a time when the country is looking at the next Lok Sabha elections.

The Centre must make clear whether it accepts the Supreme Court verdict on the issue and also ensure that Aadhaar cards are not made compulsory. It should also say whether it will be able to complete the distribution of Aadhaar cards within the three-month stipulated period, said Ms. Banerjee.

“In my State, the distribution of Aadhaar cards is only 15 to 20 per cent,” the Chief Minister said, adding that the Centre “cannot say that you [the State] have to complete this within such a time.” She sought a review of the matter while reacting to an advertisement issued by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas appearing in certain city newspapers on the day linking LPG subsidy to Aadhaar cards for the city, Howrah and Cooch Behar districts.

The stricture related to Aadhaar cards for the direct transfer of subsidies on cooking gas cylinders does not reflect “the right attitude.” “I am shocked to see this attitude. People are not beggars, why are they the sufferers?” she asked, coming down on government agencies for “harassing people.”

Wondering how many cards the Centre expects a citizen to have, Ms. Banerjee said: “This is a serious matter… We must consider having a single card that will serve all purposes.” “Only one uniform card is needed or unique card – whatever you want to call it” or else “banks must open a locker for the cards as there are so many.” If not there may be “a garland of cards but the problem will not be solved.”

Pointing out that she had received a letter from the Petroleum Ministry asking a weekly ‘bus day’ to be observed and work hours changed in State offices to save on fuel, Ms. Banerjee accused it of giving her “ridiculous statements without taking a serious view.”

“I think it is a lame excuse and it is negligence on the part of the government to take this type of hasty decisions,” she said.

“What kind of a situation is this? Let the Central government do it first; then they should ask the State government to do it. We have a federal structure [in the country]. You are not taking any action but advising other people that there will be a ‘bus day.’ Will it solve the problem?” she asked.

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