PM Modi's letters to poor has troubled Opposition. But why?
To celebrate the 100-day mark of Ayushman Bharat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ambitious health insurance scheme, hundreds of poor have received letters signed by him, a move which has rattled the Opposition. The parties claim PM Modi is hoping to gain brownie points this election season, while BJP maintains it is an outreach exercise to educate deprived people about the scheme. Here's more.
One of the contention points is the money spent on the letters. According to NDTV, 7.5cr letters have been printed at a cost of Rs. 15.75cr. CPM MP MB Rajesh asked where the money came from, considering the budget of the scheme is Rs. 2,000cr. Further, he asked why were other schemes mentioned in the letter if the idea is to create awareness about the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana.
In the letter, PM Modi spoke about his quest with poverty and explained those days forced him to do something about the poor. He mentioned other schemes like Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, the Saubhagya Scheme, Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana. The intention, the Centre claimed, was to educate people. Notably, Ayushmaan Bharat's CEO Indu Bhushan also dismissed Opposition's allegations.
Bhushan said the expense on letters was billed as administrative expenses and had no impact on the budget. He claimed it was these letters which told poor about various schemes of the government and helped them reap benefits. "We have had people who came in for treatment only after they received the letters," he said. Despite the massive outreach, many remained unimpressed.
In West Bengal, TMC withdrew from the important scheme only because of PM Modi's letters. The letter mentioned scheme's name as PM-JAY and it violated the MoU, WB told the Union Health Ministry. In a gist, the scheme which aims to benefit 50 crore families across the nation didn't get a welcome in WB as the letters created "unnecessary confusion".
"If someone feels that this is political, it's because they must have misused money when they were in power. The taxpayer's money is being used so that more people come to know about it, so more people can benefit," defended BJP parliamentarian V Muraleedharan.
The outreach of these letters is massive, to say the least. It has also been translated into various local languages for better understanding of people. A poor person receiving a letter from the nation's Prime Minister to inform him about health insurance which could change his life is certainly impactful, election season notwithstanding. Slamming the scheme due to letters is anything but logical.