The BJP government in Gujarat was in for a major embarrassment on Tuesday when authorities in tribal-dominated Chhota Udepur district distributed school bags to children with picture of former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, hidden beneath Education Department logos.
The state government immediately announced an inquiry into the gaffe. As many as 12,000 school bags with stickers of Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh's picture were distributed to largely tribal children in Chhota Udepur in central Gujarat.
Akhilesh picture was hidden behind stickers pasted on it, with a logo of 'Jilla Shikshan Shakha' (district Education Department), Chhota Udepur, 2017-18.
Every year, the government distributes educational kits, including school bags, as part of its 'Shala Pravesh Utsav' initiative to promote enrollment of students from socially and economically disadvantaged background in schools.
Gujarat: Bags distributed to students at govt school in Chhota Udaipur reveal photo of Ex UP CM Akhilesh Yadav under stickers put on bags pic.twitter.com/7wELKfealC— ANI (@ANI_news) June 13, 2017
Some teachers at a school in Vasedi village later found that on peeling off the stickers with logos on the bags, stickers of a smiling Akhilesh with slogan 'Khhoob padho, khoob badho' (read a lot, progress a lot) were revealed.
The Akhilesh Yadav government in Uttar Pradesh had sanctioned over 1.8 crore school bags for distribution to schoolchildren last year. However, many of these bags could not be distributed as the Model Code of Conduct came into effect with the announcement of Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.
Though his successor Yogi Adityanath continued with the distribution of school bags with stickers of Akhilesh, some of these bags somehow reached Gujarat.
Gujarat Education Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama announced the inquiry and promised "action" against those responsible for the gaffe.
He said the bags were sourced by e-tendering during the Congress rule in Chhota Udepur district panchayat. The bags are learnt to have been supplied by a Surat-based firm, Chhotalal Pvt. Limited, at a cost of Rs 124 per bag.
"The true picture will emerge only after the inquiry," Chudasama said.
The Congress, on its part, hit out at the Bharatiya Janata Party government and said that the district may be under the Congress rule but the scheme is implemented by the state government.
"The Education Department is responsible for this goof-up and it is nothing but an example of corruption by the BJP in the state," Congress Spokesperson Manish Doshi said.