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Congress accuses Modi regime of trying to scuttle Karnataka’s free rice scheme, BJP hits back

"BJP leaders had openly threatened Kannadigas during elections by saying that all schemes will be stopped if BJP is not voted to power. Is this letter to FCI an outcome of that?" the CM asked.

The edict Congress announced on Thursday that the party will go forward with its free 10 kg rice Anna Bhagya program regardless of the Modi regime’s “non-cooperation,” blaming the BJP for retaliating against Karnataka after the electoral reversal on the May 10 assembly polls.

RS Surjewala, AICC general secretary, accused the BJP of trying to stir the undertaking of its ambitious election pledge. He said in a tweet that the program would shroud 1.28 crore families consisting of about 4.42 crore populace.

He also said that the Congress rule was willing to impose aside Rs 11,000 crore for the program, but Modi’s regime had questioned the Food Corporation of India (FCI) not to give Karnataka the supplementary rice it was asking for.

Surjewala said, the FCI has plentiful stock and was willing to peddle in the open market, but not to Karnataka. This revealed the Modi government’s aversion to SC/STs, OBCs, and impoverished people. The hefty vendors subsidized by the BJP were ready to snare poor people’s rice while declaring that howsoever hard the BJP tried, the Congress government would enforce the scheme, he added.

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Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, called the Centre’s response a “desperate attempt to create problems” for the smooth rollout of the program, in a statement.

The Congress leader’s statement

“BJP leaders had openly threatened Kannadigas during elections by saying that all schemes will be stopped if BJP is not voted to power. Is this letter to FCI an outcome of that?” the CM asked.

He added that the state penned to the FCI on June 9 placing a plea for 2.28 lakh MT of rice. The FCI had agreed to sell at Rs 34,00 per quintal, but four days later, the Centre wrote to the FCI asking it to terminate the sale of rice and wheat to states except to the Northeast and instead sell them under the open market sale scheme.

Former CM Basavaraj Bommai threatened to launch a state-wide uproar if the Congress ceased to function to implement the scheme from June as vowed to the people. He called the government’s charges a stab to run away from its responsibility.

He said that the state should either give 10 kg of rice or disseminate money to individual bank accounts. The government has all the data to transfer money through direct benefit transfer (DBT).

Bommai also asked why the CM did not ask his team of officials to formulate to buy rice on the day he retained conversations with them after presuming office and why the government did not invite bids for rice purchase. BJP state president Nalinkumar Kateel accused Siddaramaiah of trying to dodge people with his own set of reasons.

BJP MP Tejasvi Surya said the Centre’s direction to FCI was applicable to all states including those ruled by the BJP.

“Siddaramaiah is now upset that he can’t distribute Centre’s subsidized rice and claim it as his own. Karnataka Congress Govt must buy food grains from the open market, just like BJP Govt in UP, and fulfill the promise made to people,” he said in a statement.

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