Opposition to take up Aadhaar battle in Parliament

KOLKATA: After demonetisation, Aadhaar is going to be a rallying point for the opposition in Parliament when the session begins on March 9. Political rivals — chief minister Mamata Banerjee and then Kerala CM P Vijayan have already condemned the MHRD notification making Aadhaar mandatory for school students covered under the mid-day meal programme.

Both Trinamool Congress and Congress have sent notices to the Rajya Sabha chairman demanding a debate on the issue.

In Kolkata, mayor Sovan Chatterjee sounded reassuring for the poor school going children included in mid-day meal programme in KMC-run schools. “We have more than 200 such schools. We will arrange funds on our own to continue with the programme without depending on the Centre’s subsidy,” Chatterjee said.

For Bengal, the MHRD notification would affect as many as 39.63 lakh students who have to get Aadhaar cards by June 30 if they want to get the benefit.

Sensing that it would be an uphill task for the state, Trinamool took to the streets in Kolkata on Monday two days after Mamata Banerjee expressed her dissent over the “inhuman” decision. “The decision must be withdrawn immediately. Will children in schools be left to starve because of the Modi government’s anarchic policy?” said former minister Chandrima Bhattacharya. Interestingly, Kerala CM and CPM politburo member P Vijayan followed Mamata’s footsteps to call the MHRD notification “absurd.”

The opposition may continue with the debate on Aadhaar enrolment, citing the Supreme Court judgment, the fact remains that Bengal is behind behind Delhi, Chandigarh, Haryana, Jharkhand and 19 other states so far as Aadhaar enrolment is concerned. The situation in urban and semi-urban areas is slightly better than the rural hinterland that has a poor 75% Aadhar enrolment among school students when they need this programme the most.

Aadhaar enrolment and linking the number with banks has also been stressed upon for getting benefits under the 100-day work programme where the number of beneficiaries stood at 28.66 crore in 2015-2016 with Bengal getting the highest funds.