Free rice scheme: Congress says Karnataka govt has given befitting reply to BJP

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh asserted that the Congress Government in Karnataka will not be shaken in its resolve to implement its guarantee

Jairam Ramesh (Photo: IANS)
Jairam Ramesh (Photo: IANS)


The Congress on Monday lashed out at the Modi government, accusing it of playing "petty and vindictive" politics on the issue of food security and sabotaging the Karnataka Congress' guarantee of providing free rice to the poor.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh asserted that the Congress Government in Karnataka will not be shaken in its resolve to implement its guarantee.  Therefore, for the time being, it is launching a scheme today that will transfer Rs. 170 every month to each of the 4.42 crore persons in the state covered by ration cards, he said in a statement.

This transfer is equivalent to the amount the state government would have paid the Food Corporation of India (FCI) had the Modi Government not intervened at the last minute and stopped the sale of rice even though there are ample buffer stocks available, the Congress leader said.  "The cash transfer scheme launched today by the Congress Government in Karnataka is a befitting reply to the Modi Government's vindictive policies in regard to food security for the poor especially in a state where the BJP was comprehensively rejected.

"These policies do not make for cooperative federalism that the PM likes to boast about. Instead, they reflect confrontational federalism at its petty worst," Ramesh said in the statement.

He said the Anna Bhagya guarantee of the Congress Government in Karnataka was to provide 10 kg of rice free to all families below the poverty line (BPL). This meant a doubling of the entitlement, he claimed, On June 12, 2023, he said the FCI had agreed to supply the additional rice required for which the state government had agreed to pay Rs 34 per kg. But just a day later the Modi Government cancelled the approval while allowing FCI to continue selling rice at Rs 20/kg to ethanol producers, he claimed.

"The Modi Government has played petty and vindictive politics on food security for the poor in Karnataka. It tried to sabotage the @INCKarnataka's Anna Bhagya guarantee. But beginning today the state government has given a befitting reply even as it continues in its efforts to get additional rice," he also  Ramesh said after preventing the Karnataka government from going ahead with its purchase of rice from the FCI the Modi Government asked the FCI to e-auction rice to private traders with the condition that Karnataka could not buy from them.

But this e-auction has "flopped miserably" and more than 99.9 per cent of the rice offered for e-auction remains unsold, he said.  "In any case, it is clear that the Modi Government has greater faith in private traders to control inflation than in state governments and the public distribution system," the Congress leader said. 

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