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HindustanTimes Mon,22 Sep 2014

Fresh knot in Samajwadi Party's 'sari plan'

Brajendra K Parashar , Hindustan Times  Lucknow, October 01, 2013
First Published: 10:09 IST(1/10/2013) | Last Updated: 10:16 IST(1/10/2013)

It seems the last word is yet to be written about implementation of the Samajwadi Party’s pre-poll promise to distribute saris and blankets to the below poverty line (BPL) families.

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Within days of having decided to start gifting two saris each to the state’s two crore BPL women above 18 years of age by October end, the government faces another challenge.

For one, the demand for gifting salwar suits to Muslim women has got a big momentum in the wake of the Muzaffarnagar riots.

And then, a minister from the minority community is insisting that quilts should be distributed instead of blankets to the elderly among the poor in his district Amroha in western UP. All this means more work and more worries for the panchayati raj department, which is the nodal agency for the scheme.

In its manifesto, the SP had promised to distribute one blanket each to BPL persons above 65.

Sources said the government was close to accepting the idea of distributing salwar suits to Muslim women in place of saris, though the demand for the distribution of quilt, instead of blankets, might be considered only later.

“Many ministers are saying Muslim women in their constituencies generally do not wear saris and hence they are demanding that they be gifted salwar suits,” sources said to HT.

The district magistrates of a few districts with a sizeable Muslim population had earlier made the same suggestion.

“Now, the demand has received a momentum. The government, which is looking for ways to please Muslim voters, is likely to accept this demand very soon,” the sources claimed.

The sources also said if the government accepted the demand, it would distribute the fabric, along with the dupatta, instead of stitched salwar suits so that the beneficiaries could get them tailored as per their choice and size.

“But the problem that might be faced is that a salwar suit would cost a little more than a sari which is coming for Rs. 225 per piece,” said sources.

They said that Muslim women would have the option to go for a salwar suit or for a sari.

“This is why we are not in a position to identify the beneficiaries of salwar suits,” they added.

The fabric for the salwar suits will also be purchased from the same agencies that have been identified for the supply of saris.

Admitting the entire matter had got too complicated, a senior official suggested that the state government think of giving cash to people to buy a sari, blanket.

“It is very difficult to purchase saris and blankets as per the specifications laid down and then distribute the same to the beneficiaries,” he said.


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