Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan with chief minister Hemant Soren in Ranchi on Thursday. (Prashant Mitra)
Ranchi/Jamshedpur, Aug. 28: Coinciding with Prime Minister Narendra Modi launching his ambitious Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana to end “financial untouchability” in New Delhi today, two central ministers kick-started the scheme in Ranchi and Jamshedpur, one getting the JMM scion’s hospitality while another facing his party’s black flags.
Chief minister Hemant Soren, whose speech was allegedly interrupted by BJP leaders at the Modi meeting in Ranchi on April 21, exuded grace as he and Union petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan launched the Yojana at the state-level at a Ranchi hotel this afternoon.
On the other hand, some 50 JMM workers in Jamshedpur, with black flags and “hai-hai” slogans, baited Union minister of state for social justice and empowerment Sudarshan Bhagat as his cavalcade neared Tata Auditorium on XLRI campus, the venue for the launch of the same Yojana.
Observing that many poor people of the country had mobile phones but no bank account, Modi had announced the launch of Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana during his maiden Independence Day speech. Today, he launched it with finance minister Arun Jaitley at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi.
The scheme aims at opening 15 crore zero-balance bank accounts, two from each of the 7.5 crore poor households in urban and rural areas across India, by March 2018. Today, 1.5 crore bank accounts were opened across the country, possibly the biggest global initiative in a day.
Key components of this scheme include the debit or RuPay card — owned by National Payments Corporation of India and an alternative to Visa and Mastercard — with life insurance cover of Rs 30,000 in addition to accidental insurance cover of Rs 1 lakh. Later, account holders will get overdraft facility of up to Rs 5,000.
In far-flung places, business correspondents will liaison between people and banks.
In Ranchi, Union minister Pradhan, who unlike cabinet colleagues Narendra Singh Tomar and Radha Mohan Singh, did not face JMM black flags as part of their ongoing agitation against “BJP-sponsored booing” of Hemant, thanked the state for taking interest in the scheme.
Hemant returned the compliment. “It seems to be a good scheme and reflects the sensitivity of the Prime Minister,” he said.
Bhagat, also a Lohardaga MP, displayed political maturity by refusing to comment on JMM’s black flags.
“It’s an internal matter of the JMM,” he said.