PICTURES OF former CM Parkash Singh Badal and his son-in-law, former Food and Civil Supplies Minister Adesh Partap Singh Kairon, will be removed from the blue card, given to beneficiaries of the atta dal scheme. The new government, practising austerity, has decided not to print new blue cards that would cost the exchequer Rs 3 crore. It has also decided to remove two centre pages from the four-leaf booklet. The centre page (page number 3) has picture of Kairon printed with a message from him. Before the election, the then government had also pasted stickers carrying Badal’s pictures alongside Kairon’s picture.
The state has over 30 lakh beneficiary families and each one has been given a blue card. During every wheat distribution season (Punjab has been distributing wheat twice a year after taking special permission from the Centre that has made it mandatory for states to distribute wheat every month under the food security Act), the depot holders, who distribute wheat for the state government, record the distribution.
The department would be distributing wheat for the last six months in April. Sources in the department said, “We will issue instructions to the depot holders to remove the centre pages in the booklet. This will take care of Badal and Kairon pictures. The cover and back pages of the booklet do not look to be a representative of the SAD-BJP government. We do not need to get the blue cards reprinted. Otherwise, it would have cost us,” said a government official.
Blue cards, introduced by the former food minister in September 2016, became a source of controversy when Kairon got only his picture printed on them. The chief minister’s office realised it only after the cards were sent for distribution to the deputy commissioners. The CMO then suspended the distribution and got 30 lakh stickers with Badals’ pictures printed on them. The pictures were then pasted alongside Kairon’s and only then were these distributed.
The Congress government in Punjab will continue with the atta dal scheme initiated by the previous government. Captain Amarinder Singh had promised to go ahead with the scheme before polls.
Kairon, when contacted, said, “It is their government. They can do anything.” He added that his picture was part of a four-page letter written by him to the beneficiaries, which was stapled in the blue card. “The letter can easily be removed as it has just been stapled. Otherwise, it was just a letter explaining the process of public distribution system to the beneficiaries. Otherwise, I never believed in promoting myself,” said Kairon.