PM renews ration scheme for poor

Amidst anticipation of a big statement on the ongoing crisis at the Indo-China border, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his speech struck a note closer home as he announced the extension of the Centre’s free ration scheme for the poor till Chhatt Puja.

Bihar assembly elections are slated for October-November.

PM Modi steered clear of the China issue and in a rather brief address announced that in view of the coming festival season that will go on till Diwali and Chhath, the free ration scheme that will benefit 80 crore people will be extended and the rollout of ‘One Nation One Ration Card’.

The reference to Chhath Puja and the announcement, that many in political circles said could have been made through a press release or by any other Union Minister, was seen as an early sop for voters.

As per official figures, the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana has so far catered to 80 crore beneficiaries, who could avail five kilograms of rice or wheat per person and one kg bengal gram per family. The scheme was initially sanctioned for three months from April to June 30 and would have expired today.

“ July marks the beginning of the festive season …which increases necessities as well as expenditure. Keeping all these things in mind, it has been decided to extend Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana up to Diwali and Chhath Puja, till November-end…,” Modi said.

The PM’s address, however, drew heavy flak from the Opposition for not addressing pressing issues such as the tension with China at the Line of Actual Control and measures to tackle to Covid-19 as India continues to report steep single-day spikes in new cases. Chief Minister of poll-bound West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee hit out at Modi and said that her government would continue the free ration scheme till June 2021 and that the quality of grains were far superior compared to the Centre’s supplies.

Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said that her party had hoped the PM would talk about substantive steps taken against Covid-19, job loss, economic crisis, China issue among other things but ‘clearly it was much ado about nothing.’

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