Why no PM's photo in ration shop? Nirmala Sitharaman scolds Collector in Telangana
"I am telling you today. Our people will come and put up the PM's banner here. You will, as the district administrator, ensure that it shall not be removed. That it shall not be torn," Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told the Collector, warning him that she would return if the banner was not there.
Jitesh Patil, the collector of the Kamareddy district in Telangana, was at the receiving end of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's anger after he failed to provide her with an answer about the share of rice supplied by the Centre and the state through fair price shops.
While attending programmes in the Zaheerabad Parliamentary Constituency as part of BJP's 'Lok Sabha Pravas Yojana', Sitharaman also asked Patil why Prime Minister Narendra Modi's picture was missing from the shop in Birkur. She said the Centre bears the lion's share in the subsidised rice which is being sold at the rate of Re 1 kg to beneficiaries in the state.
"People are being distributed rice at Re 1 here; the same rice is sold at Rs 35 in the open market. How much cost is the state government bearing," she asked the Collector.
Sitharaman said Re 1 is collected from the beneficiaries for the rice for which the Centre bears nearly Rs 30 and the state gives Rs 4 while. Since March-April 2020, the finance minister claimed, the Centre has been providing rice priced at Rs 30-Rs 35 free of cost without the state government and the beneficiaries having to contribute anything.
While stating that the Centre had been supplying rice to shops by bearing all the costs, including logistics and storage, Nirmala said she was trying to get an answer whether the free rice was reaching the people or not.
When the official could not answer the question, the Union Minister asked him to come up with an answer in the next 30 minutes.
"You think about it and within half an hour again before my address to the media (come up with an answer). So that I can tell them that even if the Collector could not answer my question immediately,... he struggled and got the information," she said.
She alleged that when a request made earlier to put up Prime Minister Modi's pictures also at the fair price shops in Telangana was disallowed. The BJP workers, who came forward to put up the pictures, were also allegedly not allowed to do so.
"I am telling you today. Our people will come and put up the PM's banner here. As the district administrator, you will ensure that it shall not be removed. That it shall not be torn," she told the Collector, warning him that she would return if the banner was not there.
Condemning her remark, Telangana Health Minister T Harish Rao said it was unbecoming of a Union Minister to ask for Prime Minister's picture to be kept in a ration shop.
He claimed that the Centre supplied 10 kg of rice per month at Rs 3 per kg to only 50 to 55 per cent of cardholders under the National Food Security Act, while the Telangana government gave the remaining 45-50 per cent at its own cost.
"This is ridiculous. She is talking in such a way that it degrades the Prime Minister's stature. She was talking as if all the rice (which is given free of cost) was being supplied by them (Centre)," he said, adding that the state government spent Rs 3610 crore every year on the free rice scheme.
Under the Centre's Garib Kalyan Yojana, the Union Minister said that the central government is bearing the entire cost of 5 kg of foodgrains given free. "Under NFSA, more than 80 per cent of the cost of foodgrains is borne by the Centre. Is there any objection to a poster/banner of PM Modi being displayed at ration shops? Smt @nsitharaman," her office tweeted.
Earlier, some Congress workers tried to protest when the Finance Minister was on her way to Banswada. Police intervened and dispersed the group.