Omss: Congress-BJP blame game over Centre’s restriction on sale of rice | India News


NEW DELHI: The Congress and the BJP got involved in a verbal duel over the Centre’s decision to restrict sale of rice under the Open Market Sale Scheme (Domestic) after the Karnataka assembly election results were declared on May 13.
Congress MP and general secretary in-charge of communications Jairam Ramesh criticised the central government’s decision calling it “pathetic”.
In a tweet, he said, “The Modi government tries to be clever but ends up becoming too clever by half. The unreasonable restrictions placed on sale of rice under the Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS) at Rs 34 per kg has misfired badly with the extremely low offtake of rice.”
He said surplus food stock should indeed be used in the larger interest of 140 crore people. But between January and May 2023, it was Karnataka alone that accounted for over 95% of Food Corporation of India (FCI) sales to states. This was when the BJP government was in power in the state.
Ramesh said, “On May 13 (Karnataka) election results are out. The BJP loses badly. A Congress government comes in. The FCI stops providing rice to states through OMSS on June 13. It rescinded its own sale order of June 12 with the sole intention of sabotaging the Congress’s ‘Anna Bhagya’ which is unique to Karnataka.”
He further said, “Meanwhile, let us not forget the continued sale of rice for ethanol at Rs 20 per kg. The Modi government should not be shooting from the shoulders of other states. More so it should not be deploying officers to defend what is essentially a pathetic political decision.”
The Congress had promised to implement the five ‘guarantees’ – 200 units of free power to all households (Gruha Jyoti), Rs 2,000 monthly assistance to the woman head of every family (Gruha Lakshmi), 10 kg of rice free to every member of a BPL household (Anna Bhagya), Rs 3,000 every month for unemployed graduate youth and Rs 1,500 for unemployed diploma holders (both in the age group of 18-25) (YuvaNidhi), and free travel for women in public transport buses (Shakti) – on coming to power.
After the Centre changed its policy, the Congress government in Karnataka led by Siddaramaiah announced distribution of cash in lieu of rice to the beneficiaries.
Replying to Ramesh, BJP head of information and technology department Amit Malviya said it is the Congress that is shooting off the shoulders of the people of the state of Karnataka. After having made improbable promises, now the party is scurrying around looking for excuses for not fulfilling its election promise of free rice under Anna Bhagya 2.0, he said.
Malviya, who is also the BJP’s co-in-charge of West Bengal, said, “The Centre’s intention and rationale to restrict supply of rice under Open Market Sale Scheme (Domestic) to states has been made clear during the food ministers’ meet held on July 5 in New Delhi. Out of the 17 ministers and secretaries from states and Union Territories (UTs) who attended, all except Karnataka supported the decision aimed at controlling inflation.”
Malviya said the Centre is duty-bound to ensure food security of 140 crore people and not help a political party meet its “outlandish promises”.
He said the country’s procurement is in the range of 550-600 LMT every year. If individual states make a demand of 10 kg per person, the requirement will be 720 LMT, which clearly overshoots available limits. Moreover, such requirements will make the maintenance of critical buffer stock a challenge, he said.
“The Congress is weaving this false narrative to take the heat off itself for blundering with its bogus promise to the people of Karnataka. What is pathetic is the Congress insensitivity to not just the people of the state but also the country at large, for insisting that the common man bear the brunt, once again, for their dubious games,” he said.
Malviya accused the Congress of making excuses by raising questions over procurement and rice supply for ethanol production in order to drag its feet over its much-hyped “guarantee”.


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