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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Dec 2014

Central scheme launched, carries Akali Dal ‘stamp’

Sachin Sharma, Hindustan Times  Bathinda, August 29, 2014
First Published: 08:37 IST(29/8/2014) | Last Updated: 08:39 IST(29/8/2014)

Apparently with a view to getting political mileage for the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), the Centre’s Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana was launched here on Thursday by union food processing minister and local MP Harsimrat Badal with a visible SAD bearing on the event.

At a function, Harsimrat launched the scheme by distributing kits with bank passbooks and ATM cards to beneficiaries. The envelopes in which the kits were placed had a picture of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal.

The function was virtually hijacked by SAD with several party leaders, besides elected representatives, being present on the stage. Some people from among the beneficiaries accepted that they owed allegiance to SAD. District party president Parminder Goyal was the only BJP leader present.

When asked about the CM’s picture on the envelopes, Harsimrat said there should be no issue with this. 

Under the earlier UPA government, the SAD-BJP government had faced allegations of hijacking central schemes for taking political mileage, but with the BJP-led NDA at the Centre now, the situation seems to have become convenient for the state government.

Meanwhile, addressing the gathering, Harsimrat said the scheme would benefit the poorest of the poor. She said that under the scheme, the bank account of every household would be opened irrespective of whether they already had it and an accidental insurance of Rs. 1 lakh and a health insurance of Rs. 30, 000 would be provided to the family. Besides, a credit facility up to Rs. 5,000 would also be provided. She said at present only 59% people in the country had bank accounts and under this scheme the Centre would open bank account of every person. 

CM asks bankers to be liberal with loans

Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Thursday called upon bankers to liberally sanction loans at low rates to the poor to ensure their financial autonomy.

Addressing the beneficiaries after launching the Prime Minister’s Jan Dhan Yojana in Ludhiana, Badal said bankers could play a proactive role in bringing down rates of interest on loans advanced to the poor. He underlined the need to provide these loans at nominal rates, which would ensure the financial empowerment of the poor and guarantee the recovery of these loans.

Badal said the idea behind the nationalisation of banks could be served meaningfully only provided majority of economically deprived sections were propelled towards financial inclusion.

Hailing the scheme as the brainchild of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Badal said it would prove a milestone in transforming the destinies of those who had been leading a life of penury. The CM also handed over the banking kits to 50 beneficiaries.

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