Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is under pressure in the latest food scam
The government of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in Madhya Pradesh came under a scathing attack from Opposition parties today, a day after NDTV broke the story on large-scale fraud and irregularities in the Take Home Ration (THR) scheme for schoolchildren and women.
Senior congress leader Jairam Ramesh tweeted: "The BJP government of Madhya Pradesh had earlier ruined the future of the youth with the Vyapam scam. Now, injustice to poor children and pregnant women! Did "Mama" (reference to Mr Chouhan) form the government with Maharaja (reference to Jyotiraditya Scindia) just to commit such scams?"
Commenting on the scam, former Chief Minister and senior congress leader Digvijay Singh said: "The BJP government in Madhya Pradesh is setting new records of corruption every day. Mama is now so confident that he thinks everybody is for sale."
A confidential 36-page report by the Madhya Pradesh Accountant General, accessed exclusively by NDTV, found massive irregularities in the identification of beneficiaries, production, distribution and quality control of the ambitious free food scheme for girls and women.
Lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan said: "Mama ka anaj ghotala! (Mr Chouhan's vegetable scam) Transport trucks that were found to be motorcycles! Wild exaggeration of the number of beneficiaries! MP govt's nutrition programme for children has eye-popping levels of corruption, leaving them malnourished, the state's auditor found."
The scale of the scam was such that the trucks that six manufacturing plants or firms claimed to have used to have transported 1,125.64 tons of rations costing Rs 6.94 crore, were found registered as motorcycles, cars, autos and tankers upon verification from the transport department records.
Trinamool Congress party also attacked the BJP for the food scam in Madhya Pradesh. In a tweet today, the party said: "The BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh government is corrupt. BJP4India leaders don't even spare children, but ED and CBI will sleep through such news! The hypocrisy of the puppets of the BJP stand exposed yet again."
While the School Education Department had estimated the number of out-of-school girls to be 9,000 in 2018-19, the Women and Child Development (WCD) Department, without conducting any baseline survey, estimated their number at 36.08 lakh. The WCD has been under the supervision of Mr Chouhan himself since the resignation of BJP leader Imarti Devi in 2020, following a defeat in by-elections. In eight audited districts, the officials did not inspect Anganwadi centres during 2018-21, indicating extremely poor internal controls as well.