Lucknow, Dec 27: It has been a struggle for Savitri Devi to send her son, Prakash Kumar, to school every day, this winter. Prakash (12), who is a class six student in a government school in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, has no sweater and he finds it excruciatingly difficult to reach his school in this cold weather conditions without any woolens to keep him warm.
Savitri, a widow, who works as a domestic help, can't afford to buy woolen garments for her only child. If Savitri's poverty is stopping her from buying her son a sweater, the Yogi Adityanath government has no such accuse, as it has the requisite budget to buy woolens for students studying in government-run schools in the state.
In UP, every year, students of government schools get sweaters free of cost from the administration. However, this year, the Yogi government is showing no haste to distribute sweaters to students till now, even after more than a month since winter has set in in the northern state.
On Tuesday, the opposition Samajwadi Party (SP) attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in UP over the delay in distribution of sweaters to children in government schools despite funds being allocated in the state budget.
"The government is repeatedly cancelling the tender pertaining to sweaters and the school children are waiting for them. It should not happen that children languish in false hope and the tender process gets completed by May-June," SP president and former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav tweeted.
सरकार बार-बार स्वेटर के टेंडर कैंसल कर रही है और स्कूल के बच्चे सरकार की तरफ़ से दिए जाने वाले स्वेटर का इंतजार. कहीं ऐसा न हो कि इधर बच्चे झूठी उम्मीदों की आग तापते ही रह जाएं और उधर टेंडर की प्रक्रिया पूरी होते-होते मई-जून आ जाए.— Akhilesh Yadav (@yadavakhilesh) December 26, 2017
The ruling party, however, rebutted his comments and said that the sweaters will be distributed at the earliest and the state government was making every step in this direction.
"Why is Akhilesh Yadav so worried now? We have distributed the socks and shoes. If he had shown the same concern for the children earlier, then sweaters would have been distributed earlier.
"We had to see the colours, price and a host of other specifications (of sweaters)," basic education minister Anupama Jaisawal told PTI.
The minister also said that she has pledged not to wear a sweater until they are distributed to children.
"If the Opposition was so much concerned for the welfare of the children and the state, then the scene would have been completely different in the past 15 years," she said.
As the Opposition and the ruling BJP fight over distribution of sweaters to students, it is the poor children who are having really difficult times attending schools as the minimum temperature in the state dipped to 8 degree Celsius on Wednesday.