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regular-article-logo Monday, 15 April 2024

Mamata Banerjee praises Jyoti Priya Mallick for efforts towards digitising ration cards

The TMC chief said her government was dealing with the legacy of the Left Front government and that the Trinamul-led government tried to make the public distribution system free of irregularities after it came to power in 2011

Pranesh Sarkar Calcutta Published 02.11.23, 06:50 AM
CPM workers demonstrate in front of the office of the department of food and supplies in Birbhum’s Rampurhat on Wednesday.

CPM workers demonstrate in front of the office of the department of food and supplies in Birbhum’s Rampurhat on Wednesday. Picture by Prankrishna Hazra

Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday stood by her party colleague and former food and supplies minister Jyoti Priya Mallick, who was arrested last Friday by the Enforcement Directorate on charges of corruption in the public distribution system, by praising his efforts towards digitising ration cards.

The chief minister said that Mallick, the current forest minister, had worked to implement several reforms in the distribution system of food grain supplies.

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“Of course, he is a (forest) minister of the government. But how many know that he worked for digitisation of ration cards and how that cancelled one crore fake ration cards,” the chief minister said when she was asked by the media at Nabanna whether the arrest of the minister by the central agency was BJP's political vendetta.

Mamata added that as the question was political, her party would make its stand clear on the issue at an appropriate time.

While staying on the issue, the chief minister wanted to steer clear of the alleged PDS scam rocking the state and shift the onus of fake ration cards and irregularities in the distribution of food grains on the erstwhile Left Front government.

She said her government was dealing with the legacy of the Left Front government and that the Trinamul-led government tried to make the public distribution system free of irregularities after it came to power in 2011. Mallick was the food and supplies minister from 2011 to 2021.

“There were more than one crore fake ration cards when we came to power in 2011.... These ration cards were being used during the Left Front government to withdraw food grains. It took six to seven years to identify and cancel the fake ration cards,” Mamata said.

She said that she had faced legal hurdles whenever the government wanted to cancel licences of errant ration dealers.

“Whenever we wanted to take action, some people moved court. But despite all these, nobody died due to lack of food during the Covid-19 pandemic.... We supplied more foodgrains during the pandemic,” Mamata said.

Left Front leaders denied irregularities in the public distribution system before 2011.

“If there were irregularities, the Trinamul-led government should have ordered an inquiry. The Trinamul government has been in power for 12 years and they are yet to come up with one charge of corruption against Left Front ministers. As Trinamul's irregularities are getting exposed, the chief minister is trying to blame the Left to save her skin,” said CPI leader Srikumar Mukherjee, a member in then chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's cabinet.

A state BJP leader said fake ration cards were cancelled in Bengal only because the Centre asked states to seed Aadhaar with the ration cards.

“Bengal was the only state that delayed this initiative of the Centre to link Aadhaar with ration cards. Else, fake ration cards could have been identified much earlier. The chief minister should give credit to the Centre for scrapping fake ration cards instead of claiming that her government identified the fake ones,” said a state BJP leader.

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