A flagship program of the Madhya Pradesh government has been embroiled in controversy again after Congress accused a scam claiming to “mass distribute” shoddy items to beneficiaries.
The opposition has filed charges against the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government after some beneficiaries of Mukhaymantri Kanya Vivah/Nikah Yojana claimed that they received poor quality gifts at a mass wedding at the Chimanbagh venue in Indore on February 27.
Launched in 2006, the scheme aims to provide financial assistance to daughters of disadvantaged families for their weddings. Beneficiaries will receive a check of Rs 11,000 along with household items and jewelery worth Rs 38,000.
Earlier this month, Madhya Pradesh tribal welfare minister Meena Singh said that in her constituency of Umaria, beneficiaries were being distributed fake jewelry instead of silver. Ms Singh said she had told the district tax collector to pay cash as compensation to beneficiaries.
Earlier this week, former minister and Congress leader Vijayalaxmi Sadhi made similar claims. “Shoddy items were mass distributed to beneficiaries, I checked my constituency in Dar and the claims are true,” the congressional leader said.
The suspected distribution of inferior gifts has brought trouble to many families. More than 300 couples were invited to a mass wedding in Dahi, Madhya Pradesh, but the mandap was empty after allegations of shoddy goods surfaced.
“The wedding has been postponed for the third time and I am exhausted physically and mentally, and relatives are laughing at us,” said Ravindra Singh, one of the affected beneficiaries.
Mr Singh said his wedding, originally scheduled for February 9, was postponed to February 25 and then rescheduled to March 15.
Mr Chouhan said he was aware of the complaints. “I am changing the system because sometimes items bought as gifts for brides are of poor quality. We have received such complaints. Now, newlyweds will get checks instead of gifts,” the chief minister said.
Madhya Pradesh Social Justice Minister Prem Singh Patel told NDTV that if he receives a complaint, he will look into the matter. “So far I have not received any written complaints and if anything happens I will take action,” Mr Patel said.
Responding to the claims of his colleague Meena Singh, Mr Patel said: “…if anything, I will take action and suspend the convicted officer.”
The Madhya Pradesh government said they have provided benefits to more than 533,000 beneficiaries of Mukhyamantri Kanya Vivah Yojana and 55,000 beneficiaries of Mukhyamantri Nikah Yojana. The government said Rs 1,283 crore has been spent on the scheme so far.
Last year, thousands Fraud “on paper” weddings The siphoning of funds for the scheme has surfaced in one district of Madhya Pradesh.
Following an investigation by the state’s Economic Crime Unit, it was discovered that the scam was run through a peddling network.
They used to approach the villagers and get their bank details under some pretext and then siphon the money transferred into their accounts.