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Wednesday, October 17, 2001

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BPL deadline causes jitters

By Our Staff Reporter


#With the deadline for registration under the Below Poverty Line (BPL) scheme coming to an end on October 17, Congress(I) MLAs are now worried about the possible fall-out. Fear has gripped these legislators as the issue of issuing BPL ration cards under this scheme threatens to snowball into a major controversy which could badly affect the chances of the party in the MCD polls.

#Although only 4.90 lakh families are to be registered under the scheme and provided ration cards under the guidelines issued by the Centre the forms signed by the MLAs in their respective constituencies and those received by the areas Food and Supplies Officer clearly indicates that this could touch mind boggling 20 lakh mark. This is what exactly is bothering the MLAs who are apprehensive that denial of ration card would not be taken kindly by their constituents. ``One can imagine the consequences if lakhs of people are denied these ration cards. Even if half of them vote against the Congress(I) out of vengeance in the MCD polls, the ruling party could well itself struggling,'' a senior leader remarked.

#What has aggravated the crisis is the failure of the Congress party or the Delhi Government to highlight the fact that the guidelines for enrollment into the scheme were issued by the Central Government. The Food and Civil Supplies Department has failed to dispel the impression that it was the Centre which was responsible for this mess.

#The Delhi Government has clearly lost out on the propaganda factor on the issue and most of the residents are going back under the impression that it was the Sheila Dikshit Government which was running the scheme. The party would have to pay dearly if the situation goes out of hand. There is no way all the more than 20 lakh applicants would be issued ration cards. Not only this, the task of the Food and Supplies Department had also been made more difficult and it would have to race against time to complete the task on hand. The State Government has to submit before the Supreme Court the list of beneficiaries under BPL by November. ``Why should the party be blamed for this mess. It was not our job to take up the issue with the Union Government. We have not been apprised about the facts and not given any direction on what issue we have to agitate.''

#On their part, the MLAs have been on a signing spree since the scheme opened last month. In order to tone down the impact of this mess up, the MLAs have been addressing the hundreds of residents gathering every morning and impressing upon them that it would be difficult to issue the ration cards as the Centre had not agreed to change the guidelines. ``The government and the party has lost a big opportunity to corner the BJP and put the Centre on the defensive. There is no doubt that the guidelines are unrealistic in the present context but no effort has been made to put across this point of view. We hope that the party does not have to suffer for this avoidable blunder,'' a senior MLA stated.

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