At a time a when the government is focusing on a defecation-free India and abolishing bonded labour in the country, many people were in for a surprise when Madhya Pradesh rural development minister Gopal Bhargava on Thursday, in the state assembly, said open defecation and being a bonded labourer was one the criteria for inclusion in the Below poverty line (BPL) category.
The statement created uproar in the state assembly with Congress MLAs questioning how many people among MP’s 65 lakh BPL families were bonded labourers and defecating in the open?
The issue was raised by Congress MLA Kamleshwar Patel during the call attention motion regarding removal of names of people in thousands from the BPL category in the state, especially in Sidhi district.
Patel said in many cases people were declared dead and their names were removed from the BPL list.
Congress’s Jaivardhan Singh also questioned why the names of 8 lakh people in the state, who did not have aadhar cards, were removed from the list despite the Supreme Court ruling that aadhar card was not mandatory.
Bhargava said in the fresh assessment by the state government, those who did not fulfill the laid down criteria were removed from the list while those who fulfilled the criteria were added.
He said despite the Centre’s 14-point criteria, the state government had been lenient and compassionate due to which the number of families under the BPL category in the state had reached 65 lakh.
The minister said according to the 14-point criteria, the person must be a bonded labourer, should not own a house, should have just two sets of clothing and should be defecating in the open.
Congress’s Mukesh Nayak said wasn’t it a violation of the rules that on the one hand the government wanted to abolish bonded labour while on the other hand, it had been made a criterion for getting benefits under the BPL category.
BJP MLAs, however, said it was not clear whether the Congress wanted people to be removed from the list or to be added.
Bhargava said they had been successful in adding 11 lakh families in the BPL list in the last one decade due to the state government’s leniency.
He said the state government would probe the matter regarding the removal of people from the list after declaring them dead.
Acting leader of opposition Bala Bachchan on Thursday told the speaker that 10 to 12 Congress MLAs had moved an adjournment motion to initiate a discussion in the House on corruption in Simhastha.
Speaker Sita Sharan Sharma said he will consider it, but did not specify any time.
Congress’s Ram Niwas Rawat said the speaker should inform whether a discussion would be allowed or not as there was just one day left in the monsoon session. He said the state government was trying to suppress their voice on corruption in Simhastha.