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Congress opposes BJP's `midday meal campaign'

By Our Special Correspondent

BANGALORE, APRIL 17. The Congress today criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for using the State Government's midday meal scheme as the main issue in its election campaign to garner votes in the Bangalore South Lok Sabha constituency.

Addressing presspersons here, the Minister of State for Primary and Secondary Education, B.K. Chandrashekar, said the Government had given Rs. 15 lakh to Adamya Chetana Trust, run by the family of the BJP State unit President, H.N. Ananth Kumar, who is contesting from Bangalore South, to implement the scheme. "The midday meal scheme is a government programme but the BJP is giving a political colour to it to secure votes," the Minister charged.

A few days back, Prof. Chandrashekar issued a statement opposing the BJP's claim that the Adamya Chetana Trust had successfully implemented the scheme in Bangalore.

To counter the Minister's statement, the BJP distributed pamphlets accusing the Minister of opposing the implementation of the scheme by the Trust. "They (Congress) blame us for feeding hungry children," said the pamphlet distributed by the party.

The Government had the capacity to implement the scheme even if the Trust withdrew from it, Prof. Chandrashekar said. The Government was not in favour of removing the Trust from running the scheme at present. The BJP was making use of the midday meal scheme for its own ends because it had drawn a huge response from the people, the Minister said. The Adamya Chetana Trust was only one of the 24 voluntary organisations entrusted with implementing the scheme, he added.

The Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) spokesperson, V.S. Ugrappa, welcomed the Election Commission's decision to issue a show-cause notice to the BJP with regard to the distribution of saris in Lucknow. The Election Commission should direct the police to register a first information report (FIR) and arrest the BJP leaders involved in the distribution of saris, he said.

There was no "Vajpayee wave" in the country. Fearing defeat, the Prime Minister, A.B. Vajpayee, had appealed to the former Union Law Minister, Ram Jethmalani, to withdraw from the contest in Lucknow, he charged.

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