BRS, BJP lock horns over 5-kg free rice scheme
The BJP leaders said the BRS government has been implementing 6kgs rice per head at the rate of Rs 1 per kg all these years. (Image: PTI)

HYDERABAD: The ruling Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) of K.Chandrasekhar Rao and the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are embroiled in a new conflict over a 5-kg free rice scheme that would be extended to ration card
users across the state beginning this month.

The BJP-led government in New Delhi recently decided that it will offer 5-kg
of rice per person in each ration-card-holding family across the country for
a year from January to December 2023 to those covered by the National Food
Security Act, 2013. In addition to the Centre's 5-kg rice scheme, the Telangana government said on Wednesday that it will  begin distributing 5kgs of rice per person per family with ration cards immediately. Civil supplies minister Gangula Kamalakar made the announcement on Wednesday. This provoked a war of words between the BRS and BJP leaders. The BJP leaders claimed that the BRS government was forced to implement this scheme after the Centre announced a free rice scheme.

The BJP leaders said the BRS government has been implementing 6kgs rice per
head at the rate of Rs 1 per kg all these years and when the central government announced 5kg free rice scheme from January, the BRS government decided to scrap its scheme and implement the Centre's free rice scheme to reduce its subsidy burden. When the BJP leaders threatened to hold agitation programmes, the BRS government backtracked and announced a 5-kg free rice scheme.

The BJP claimed that the state government's decision to distribute free rice
was a result of its state president Bandi Sanjay Kumar demanding the same.
The party, in a news release said the government's decision was forced after
Sanjay wrote a letter to the CM on Tuesday asking if the Telangana
government wanted the poor to be on empty stomachs during the harvest
festival of Sankranti.

Gangula Kamalakar claimed that his department had to change a software system in order to implement the Centre's free rice scheme at all ration shops, resulting in delay in distributing free rice to beneficiaries for a week. The plan to supply free rice from Wednesday has nothing to do with the BJP threatening agitation programmes.

 "Telangana has 55 lakh ration card holders covered under the Centre's NFSA
while the state government issued an additional 35 lakh ration cards on its own to cover more beneficiaries by increasing income ceiling. The Centre is giving free rice to only 55 lakh ration card holders while we are bearing additional expenditure on another 35 lakh beneficiaries. We are supplying free rice to all these beneficiaries with our own funds. This shows the humane approach of CM KCR towards the poor," Kamalakar said.

Date: 12-Jan-2023