Congress: Centre discontinuing sale of foodgrains under OMSS to state govts 'anti-poor'

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah arrived in New Delhi on Wednesday to meet President Droupadi Murmu and Union Home Minister Amit Shah to discuss the matter

Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah (Photo: IANS)
Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah (Photo: IANS)

NH Political Bureau

Accusing the Modi government of being "anti-poor", the Congress on Wednesday said the Centre discontinued the sale of foodgrains from the central pool under the Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS) to state governments to "scuttle" the Karnataka government's Anna Bhagya scheme.

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah arrived in New Delhi on Wednesday to meet President Droupadi Murmu and Union Home Minister Amit Shah to discuss the matter.

"I'm meeting the President, Union Home Minister Amit Shah tomorrow... After becoming Chief Minister, I had not met (them), so I'm meeting. It is only a courtesy call," Siddaramaiah said, speaking to reporters in Bengaluru.

The Indian Express reports that the state’s Food and Civil Supplies Minister K H Muniyappa, who is also in Delhi, is expected to meet Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Piyush Goyal, to urge the central government to resume the sale of grains from the Food Corporation of India (FCI) to state governments.

The Anna Bhagya scheme, one of the five pre-poll guarantees of the Congress, promises 10 kg rice for every BPL (below poverty line) family in the state.

According to The Outlook, Siddaramaiah and his ministers have alleged that the Centre discontinued the sale of wheat and rice under OMSS(D) for state governments, a day after the FCI — which has a large number of stocks — agreed to provide 2,08,425.750 metric tonnes of rice to Karnataka, at a rate of Rs 34 per kg on June 12.

In a tweet, Congress general secretary (Communications) Jairam Ramesh accused the Modi government of indulging in "vendetta politics".

"Most recent chronology of Modi's anti-poor and vendetta politics: May 13th, 2023: PM and BJP rejected comprehensively by people of Karnataka. June 2nd, 2023: CM Karnataka announces the implementation of Anna Bhagya guarantee from July 1st that will give 10kg free foodgrains to poor families. June 13th, 2023: Union Government issues circular banning sale of rice from FCI to states under Open Market Sale Scheme. This is done to scuttle Anna Bhagya," he said.

He said the Karnataka government was willing to pay the Food Corporation of India (FCI) Rs 3,400 per quintal, but that window was closed.

"But FCI continues to sell rice at Rs 2,000 per quintal for ethanol production and blending of petrol. Food security should be of paramount concern at all times," Ramesh charged.

A recent order issued by the FCI said, "The sale of wheat and rice under the OMSS (domestic) for state governments is discontinued."

However, the sale of rice under the OMSS will continue for northeastern states, hill states and states facing law and order situations and natural calamities at the existing rate of Rs 3,400 per quintal, it said.

The FCI may liquidate rice under the OMSS to private parties from the central pool stock as per requirement in order to moderate the market prices, it added.

The Congress has been claiming that this step of the central government will hurt the most marginalised sections of society.

Five kg of rice was already being provided to every member of a BPL household in Karnataka. It is now being enhanced to 10 kg by the new government.

Karnataka had approached various state governments and central government agencies to purchase the rice required for Anna Bhagya. Despite a requirement of 2.28 lakh metric tonnes of rice per month for the scheme, Karnataka has been able to secure a supply of only 1.5 lakh metric tonnes for a month from Chhattisgarh till now.

The Punjab government has come forward to supply the rice required for Karnataka's Anna Bhagya scheme.

With PTI Inputs

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