After the Centre cut the states’ share of funds in the Budget, the Madhya Pradesh government has decided to tighten its purse strings. To cut unwarranted expenses, government events will not be hosted in five-star hotels from now and no new cars will be purchased. That apart, no payment above Rs 25 crore will be approved without the clearance of the state finance department. Recently, state Finance Minister Tarun Bhanot said presenting the state Budget this year would be the most challenging task for him. According to Bhanot, the Union government has cut Madhya Pradesh’s share in taxes by more than Rs 11,500 crore. This has compelled the state government to postpone expenses on new schemes.
Even after a hue and cry, the proposal to provide eggs to anganwadi children in Madhya Pradesh might not materialise in the near future. Insiders say the state finance department hasn’t given the go-ahead, citing lack of money. One estimate says offering eggs to children three times a week would set the state exchequer back by at least Rs 130 crore per annum. As things stand, there won’t be any announcement to this effect in the coming state Budget. In October last year, Madhya Pradesh Women and Child Development Minister Imarti Devi had said the government had decided to introduce eggs as part of mid-day meals for children in anganwadis. The chief Opposition party doesn’t seem to have a problem if the state government reneges on this promise. Gopal Bhargava, BJP leader and the Leader of the Opposition in the MP Assembly, said: “Eating non-vegetarian food is prohibited in sanatan sanskriti. If we have non-vegetarian food from our childhood, we might grow up to become man-eaters.”
Police in the crossfire
Samajwadi Party (SP) President Akhilesh Yadav never passes up an opportunity to corner the Uttar Pradesh government, especially on law and order. Yadav has criticised the newly-introduced police commissionerate in Lucknow following two daylight murders. In a statement, the SP chief said the new policing model had failed to deliver. He said while the chief minister kept boasting that criminals were either behind bars or forced to flee the state, UP’s new director general of police was pursuing 10 criminals in every district since taking charge and had acknowledged that himself. Earlier, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati had also taken a swipe at the ruling dispensation over the police commissionerate system in Lucknow and Noida, describing them as “mere humbug”.