A day after the Election Commission (EC) issued a notice to the party for distributing ‘berozgari bhatta’ (unemployment allowance) cards to youths in the state, the ruling party in Uttarakhand continued to distribute the cards on Saturday. Party leaders claimed that these are “dummy cards”, and their distribution is not against the model code of conduct. The EC had last month denied the party permission to launch these cards. Congress Rajya Sabha MP Kumari Selja and state Congress chief Kishore Upadhyaya launched the cards this week. On Saturday, Congress leaders were seen making youths fill the job cards at the party’s Vidhan Sabha office in Purola constituency of Uttarkashi district on Saturday. One such youth, Prem Lal, said that he was not aware of the EC notice – he said it was “job card” that would get him a job soon.
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Purola Congress leaders also claimed ignorance.
“We are not distributing job cards,” Congress spokesperson Mathura Dutt Joshi told The Indian Express. “These are only dummy cards that do not hold any authenticity. We are not giving any guarantee of providing jobs. We are only saying that if we come to power, we will give you similar cards and provide jobs.”
Joshi said the party has received the EC notice and will reply to it.
BJP rebel Rajkumar is the Congress candidate from Purola, a reserved (SC) constituency in the hilly northernmost district of Uttarkashi.
Chief Minister Harish Rawat had recently released his nine resolutions that promised a monthly unemployment allowance of Rs 2,500 to one youth from each family until he/she gets a job. “After a Congress government is formed, youths between 18 and 35 will be able to register with the government for unemployment allowances. Allowance will be given up to three years,” Congress spokesperson Sanjay Bhatt said.
The issue has gained controversy after the EC ordered district magistrates to stop distribution of the cards.