The ruling BJP and opposition Congress got into arguments in the Gujarat Assembly on Monday after Congress MLA Anand Chaudhary during Question Hour raised a question about misuse of biometrics in fair price shops, and commented that some people would even fake the name of Morari Bapu, a noted kathakar, to make off with ration meant for others. Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel took objection to the use of Morari Bapu’s name in this context and accused the Congress of defaming Hindu saints.
The issue cropped up during a discussion on a question related to black-marketing of grains and kerosene from fair price shops. Raising a supplementary question, Chaudhary quipped that people even fake Morari Bapu’s records to obtain ration illegally.
Immediately, Patel stood up and protested.“The member must produce evidence in the House to show that Morari Bapu’s name is present in the ration card in the former’s district,” Patel said. “These people are defaming Hindu saints. The member must produce evidence or apologise.”
The House erupted as members from both sides began arguing. The Speaker told Chaudhary that he should withdraw his question, and remarked that the “name of a saint” should not be dragged into such matters. Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said that the Opposition can take 10 names, but not of a saint like Morari Bapu.
Leader of the Opposition Paresh Dhanani explained that there was a context to the issue and said there were a number of instances in various parts of Gujarat where people were misusing the biometric data of ration card holders to usurp ration meant for them. The commodities were then being sold in the black market. Dhanani said Chaudhary’s point was only to highlight the “mafia activity” which was misusing the system and taking away the grains meant for the poor people of Gujarat.
Dhanani said that instead of taking action against such people and putting a stop to the illegal practice, the government was trying to turn the tables on the Opposition.
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