New Delhi: Few days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's surprise move to back the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), its former chairman Nandan Nilekani met the Premier and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to persuade the new regime to continue with 12 digit Aadhar number and the Direct Benefits Transfer (DBT) scheme.
The meeting took place in the first week of July in New Delhi when Nilekani was here to vacate the government bungalow allotted to him in Lutyens' area.
Modi's sudden move to seek Rs 100 crore enrolment target under Aadhar at the ‘earliest' and asking officials to look into linking passports with its data was ‘very surprising' as there were speculations that the he may go slow on the UPA government's flagship Aadhar project.
Before May 16 Lok Sabha results, Modi, as a prime ministerial candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), had criticized the Aadhar project on several occasions.
Soon after registering a thumping victory in the Lok Sabha polls, BJP leader Prakash Javadekar had expressed his party's concerns over the UIDAI project. He had counted the lack of a legal backing and the security implications with Aadhar.
However, Arun Jaitley, in his maiden Union Budget, increased the fund allocation to Aadhaar project from Rs 1,550 crore to Rs 2,' crore.
On July 3, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Law and Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and MoS for Planning Rao Inderjeet Singh had met top officials to discuss UIDAI versus the National Population Register (NPR). Reports stated that the outcome of the meeting did not favour the UIDAI in its present form and decided that a panel of secretaries will look into the synergy between the two. NPR is an entity under the Ministry of Home Affairs that conducts the decadal census.
Last month, Modi government, in an attempt to ensure ‘minimum government, maximum governance', had dissolved four Cabinet Committees including Cabinet Committee on UIDAI. It was announced that the functions of the Cabinet Committee on UIDAI will be discharged by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs.
The UIDAI was set up in 2009 by the erstwhile UPA government. The 12 digit Aadhar number helps in indentifying the residents of the country on the basis of their biometrics.