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Cheap medicine scheme with saffron ‘BJP branding’ a bigger success in non-BJP states

Bharatiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana’s logo features Devanagari letters ‘Bha’, ‘Ja’ & ‘Pa’ in saffron, but Modi govt denies it is surrogate branding for BJP.

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New Delhi: A popular cheap medicines scheme of the Narendra Modi government — which comes with some surrogate branding for the BJP — has met with more success in non-BJP ruled states, data accessed by ThePrint shows.

Originally named the Jan Aushadhi Yojana (JAY) when launched by the Congress-led UPA government in 2008, the scheme was re-branded and relaunched in 2015 by the Modi government as the Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Yojana (PM-JAY), with the PM himself receiving credit for reviving it. In 2016, it was again renamed to the Pradhan Mantri Bharatiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PM-BJP), with Modi making it a point to aggressively promote it in his election rallies.

The scheme aims to provide generic medicines at affordable prices through 5,000 Jan Aushadhi stores across the country. It falls under the ambit of the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers, and is executed by the Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India (BPPI), a department under the ministry.

States where the scheme has done well

The top five states under the scheme are Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, which together contribute nearly half the revenue it earns — Rs 100 crore out of Rs 202 crore.

Infographic by Arindam Mukherjee | ThePrint

“Karnataka alone earned Rs 50 crore last year,” a senior official at the Department of Pharmaceuticals told ThePrint.

Until July this year, three of these top five states were not ruled by BJP governments — that was when Karnataka’s Congress-JD(S) government led by H.D. Kumaraswamy fell and BJP’s B.S. Yediyurappa took over as chief minister.

In terms of growth too, non-BJP states are on top, said the official quoted above.

“The top three fastest-growing states are West Bengal, Punjab and Bihar. They are registering over 100 per cent year-on-year growth in revenue and (number of) stores,” the official said. Of these states, the BJP is in power only in Bihar, as part of a coalition with Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United).

Also read: At 1.28% of GDP, India’s expenditure on health is still low although higher than before

The logo

The scheme’s logo is in Hindi, and features the Devanagari letters ‘Bha’, ‘Ja’ and ‘Pa’ in saffron — the same letters as the BJP. The Modi government, however, insists there is no connection between the scheme and the political party.

The logo is used on packaging, hoardings and promotion.

In its RTI reply to ThePrint, the government emphasised that the logo also featured other colours to make it attractive.

“The logo of Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PM-BJP) is having various colour combinations, including saffron, navy blue, parrot green and red colour on white colour background,” it said. “It is just combinations of the colours for making logo attractive and eye-catching. Further, there is no relation between the scheme and the political party, BJP.

“The logo of the scheme is in Hindi language only. In this logo, ‘Bharatiya’ word is used for our country, ‘Janaushadhi’ word for medicines and ‘Pariyojana’ word is used for the scheme,” the government stated.

On the 2016 renaming of the scheme to PM-BJP, the government stated: “As per the directions received from the competent authority, we have changed the name and logo of the scheme w.e.f. 19 December 2016. Final design of the logo received by BPPI from the competent authority,” it said, without naming the authority concerned.

Also read: AYUSH ministry will now suggest 50 packages for inclusion under Ayushman Bharat


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