UP: With election over, 'ineligible' beneficiaries who voted for BJP asked to surrender their ration cards
Earlier, there were complaints that many non-eligible persons were getting ration under govt schemes but the government preferred to look the other way because of the upcoming assembly elections
Political pundits believe that the free ration scheme helped the BJP to win assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. Buoyant at the victory, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath declared that his government would continue providing 1,500,000 eligible poor people across the state with free ration for the next three months.
But in April, the state government issued orders asking the ineligible individuals to surrender their ration cards by May 20 otherwise punitive actions like lodging FIRs would be taken against them.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, cardholders were provided with free rations twice a month — once from the Centre, and the other time from the Uttar Pradesh government. There were complaints that many non-eligible persons were getting ration but the government preferred to look the other way because of the upcoming assembly elections.
During its election campaign, the BJP called these beneficiaries as 'labhyarthi' (beneficiary) and they were projected as its vote bank. With the election over, the government has now taken the first step to curtail free ration distribution by slashing the numbers of these 'labhyarthis'.
The government guidelines specify that the residents are ineligible to hold a ration card if one of the members in their family pays income tax, more than one member holds an arms license, or if a member has an annual income of more than ₹3 lakh in urban areas and ₹2 lakh in rural areas, or he /she owns a house, flat or commercial space of area more than 100 sq feet. Families who own a four-wheeler/tractor/harvester/an air-conditioner or generator set at home are ineligible to hold ration cards as well, the guideline said.
A senior official said that for those residents who did not submit their ration cards by May 20, the district administration will send them recovery notices and may even lodge FIRs against them under provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The recovery will be made as per the guidelines. Individuals can surrender their cards at their block offices or the office of the District Supply office, the officers said.
All the District Magistrates have issued orders accordingly.
According to officials, the “recovery process” includes imposing penalties at a rate of ₹24 for a kilogram of wheat and ₹32 for a kilogram of rice since the time ineligible households started availing ration.
There are two types of ration cards — Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) cards and Priority Household cards. Families with an annual income of less than Rs ₹3 lakh per annum in urban areas and those with an annual income of less than Rs ₹2 lakh in rural areas are eligible for Priority Household cards. People who have no house, fixed income or working skills — essentially, the poorest strata of the society — are eligible for AAY cards.