The letters with identity numbers were distributed directly through BJP cadres, and even govt officials incharge of implementing Modicare were caught by surprise.

As Twitterati trended GoBackModi BJP cadre stealthily distributed Modicare in MaduraiCourtesy: PTI
news Politics Friday, February 01, 2019 - 14:18

When the Twitterati of Tamil Nadu were busy trending the hashtag #GoBackModi on Sunday last to show their dissent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who visited Madurai to lay foundation stone for the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) hospital, the BJP’s stealthy plan to distribute Ayushman Bharat - Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) cards to BPL families in the city got off the ground.

The residents of Indira Nagar, one of the largest BPL habitations in Madurai, grew enthusiastic when the word spread. They rushed near the Collector Office where a BJP cadre, seated on a chair with Ayushman Bharat (also called Modicare) letters piled up on a table in front of him, called out names and gave them away to beneficiaries.

“As I was about to go to work on Sunday, I was told that Modi katchi (party) men were distributing health insurance cards to the poor people like us. So, I had to take leave and go there to collect it,” a resident who works as a domestic worker said. An auto driver in the locality, too, confirmed that his wife collected the letter from the BJP cadre.

A vegetable vendor, Eswari from Managiri, a nearby BPL habitation, said she too has received the letter that carries the signature of the Prime Minister. “I got enrolled in the Kalaignar kaappeettu thittam when it was introduced and availed the benefits for breast cancer surgery that I underwent last year. Now, I have been given Modicare card too.”

Tamil Nadu is the pioneer in the introduction of health insurance scheme for the poor. Late former Chief Minister M Karunanidhi introduced Kalaignar Insurance Scheme for life saving treatments on July 23, 2009 for the low income and unorganised groups as a supplementary facility for getting free treatment in empanelled government and private hospitals for serious ailments. The scheme continued with his successor late Jayalalithaa rechristening it as Chief Minister’s Comprehensive Health Insurance Scheme (CMCHIS).

In September last year, the Tamil Nadu government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Centre to implement PMJAY in the state and announced that CMCHIS will be dovetailed suitably with the former.

“The PMJAY health package for Tamil Nadu has not been intimated yet by the Centre and no beneficiary in the district has approached us so far to avail the scheme. But both the state and centrally-sponsored schemes will be integrated to make the procedures available for PMJAY beneficiaries too, but we will ensure that the beneficiary list is not overlapping,” an officer in charge of its implementation told The News Minute.

According to him, about 6.5 lakh people in Madurai district are covered under CMCHIS under which 1,034 procedures are allowed.

But what is intriguing is the distribution of letters with identity numbers to the beneficiaries through the BJP cadres. “We were told that they would be sent directly to beneficiaries, picked based on Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011 data, by post from New Delhi. We are not involved in the dispatch process,” he confided.

Though the BJP has no foothold in Tamil Nadu, where Dravidian parties have been in power, it is straining every nerve to dislodge them. The AIIMS stone laying function, that failed to draw crowd, and deploying party cadre to distribute the BJP government’s flagship scheme cards, are seen as attempts to woo voters.

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