Midday meal tour curated, says Suvendu Adhikari
Leader of the Opposition in the Bengal Assembly Suvendu Adhikari on Tuesday alleged that the state government was curating the tour of the central team looking into the implementation of the midday meal scheme in Bengal.
A 13-member team comprising representatives from both the Union and state governments started reviewing the midday meal scheme in Bengal schools on Monday. The team inspected schools in North and South 24-Parganas on Monday and Tuesday. These inspections will continue till February 6.
Accusing the Trinamul government of leading the central team on a curated trip, the Nandigram MLA said that the state bureaucrats were leading the visiting team to a “few handpicked schools” to “conceal” and “cover up the truth”.
In two tweets on Tuesday, Adhikari demanded that the schools for central team visits be selected randomly, prompting Trinamul to accuse him of trying to manipulate the central team.
“Central Inspection Team’s being led by WB Govt Officials to a few handpicked schools to review Mid Day Meal implementation. Result - Cooking staff wearing aprons & gloves. Neat & clean kitchen. They should randomly select the school & reach there abruptly to catch them off guard,” Adhikari wrote in his tweet.
Central Inspection Team's being led by WB Govt Officials to a few handpicked schools to review Mid Day Meal implementation.— Suvendu Adhikari • শুভেন্দু অধিকারী (@SuvenduWB) January 31, 2023
Result - Cooking staff wearing aprons & gloves. Neat & clean kitchen.
They should randomly select the school & reach there abruptly to catch them off guard. pic.twitter.com/VLGSSDrkMK
“It’s like, in search of reality, you’re (central team) relying on those, who are trying their best to cover up & conceal the truth. The cooking staff are instructed to play along. Their incentive - salary before time. This is WB, I won’t be surprised even if the schoolchildren were threatened,” Adhikari wrote in the second of his two tweets.
He also posted screenshots of WhatsApp messages, which he claimed were proof of conversation among state government officials on how to present a wholesome picture of the implementation of the midday meal scheme in schools.
Though the exercise to review midday has been undertaken nationally, Union education minister Dharmendra Pradhan recently said there had been numerous allegations of malpractices in this scheme in Bengal. The Union minister also said that Adhikari had written multiple letters to the ministry alleging irregularities in the implementation of the midday meal scheme in Bengal.
Reacting to Adhikari’s allegations, Trinamul state secretary Kunal Ghosh claimed that the Bengal government ran one of the best midday meal schemes in the country.
“Suvendu can hang a pendulum and expect everyone to follow its sway. He is trying to manipulate the central team,” Ghosh said.
Adhikari, who has been consistent in flagging alleged corruption and malpractices in the state administration, has repeatedly through his social media accounts commented on the way central investigating teams have been “misled” in Bengal.
Earlier on June 25, 2022, when a central team was reviewing the implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, Adhikari had tweeted: “I would request the Central Team to select the beneficiary houses randomly as the BDOs may probably mislead you.”
“This is how he (Adhikari) tries to influence central teams, but ends up looking like a joker,” Ghosh said.