Report on Madhya Pradesh nutrition programme irregularities not final, says Shivraj Singh Chouhan

Madhya Pradesh CM breaks his silence, BJP blames Congress for scam

September 07, 2022 09:11 pm | Updated 09:12 pm IST - Raipur:

The Congress has been attacking the Madhya Pradesh Government over the issue, seeking Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s resignation.  File

The Congress has been attacking the Madhya Pradesh Government over the issue, seeking Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s resignation. File | Photo Credit: A.M. Faruqui

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Wednesday said that the findings of a recent audit report that talk of purported irregularities in the State’s nutrition programme for women and children were not final, and attacked the Congress for alleged irregularities during its tenure (2018-20).

“This is not the final report of the CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General). This is a preliminary report, on which the [Women and Child Development] department is yet to present its side. Congress took action to withdraw the nutritional food plants from women self-help groups. An amount of [₹]35 crores was stopped for providing sub-par nutritional level during the Congress regime,” tweeted Mr. Chouhan.

The Congress has been attacking the Madhya Pradesh Government over the issue, seeking Mr. Chouhan’s resignation. Others, including the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Trinamool Congress (TMC), have also been turning on the heat on the issue of irregularities in the distribution of rations. In another tweet, Mr. Chouhan also attacked the AAP saying that the party under Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had failed to present the CAG’s report in the Delhi Assembly since four years.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Madhya Pradesh, too, posted a series of tweets saying that there was no scam under its rule and called the State’s Auditor General’s report that talks of “large scale fraud/misappropriation etc in the identification of beneficiaries, production, transportation, distribution and quality control of THR [take home ration]” as a “routine report dubbed as scam by the Congress”.

The party specifically addressed two irregularities highlighted by the survey — the alleged fraudulent and exaggerated estimation of the number of beneficiaries, and the quality control aspects. It said that the estimated number of 2.26 lakh beneficiaries in 2018-19 had been brought down with transparency to 15,000, and it was for this number that rations were being withdrawn.

On the quality of the THR, which comprises dry ration as well as cooked items, distributed to children, pregnant and lactating mothers, and Out Of School Adolescent Girls (OOSAG), it said that the State had been under the Congress’ rule in the period the auditor has pointed toward.

The confidential audit report said that the lab report of THR supplied by plants in five districts was not in conformity with the required nutritional value of the THR during March 2019 to January 2020 and this is a period when the Congress was ruling.

Responding to this counter by the BJP, Madhya Pradesh Congress media cell in-charge K.K. Mishra said that even if the Congress ruled the State during the said period, the Minister of Women and Child Development Department (WCD) was Imarti Devi. Ms. Devi was among the 22 rebel Congress MLAs — considered close to Union Minister Jyotiradiya Scindia — who had switched over to the BJP, paving Mr. Chouhan’s return as the Chief Minister.

However, Ms. Devi lost the by-elections that followed the crossover and since then, the department has been supervised by Mr. Chouhan himself.

“If Ms. Devi’s culpability is proven, she should be sent to jail,” Mr. Mishra said in response to the BJP’s claims and that party’s attempts to turn tables on the Congress with the hashtag #RationChorCongress.

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