NEW DELHI, Nov 05: Amid surveys that more than 50 percent of the population is struggling for subsistence on day-to-day basis, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that his government will extend the free ration scheme for another five years under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana, covering 80 crore poor people.
Modi made this announcement while addressing an election rally at Durg ahead of elections in Chhattisgarh.
The Prime Minister said that during “Covid-19 pandemic, the biggest concern of the poor people was how would they feed their children, but then I decided that I will not let any poor sleep hungry, so the BJP-government launched the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana”.
Modi said that BJP-government will extend the free ration scheme for another five years for 800 million people. He said that lakhs of people were getting free rice and gram under this scheme, which is expiring by December end but he has decided that he will allow this to happen at any cost.
He said that “the BJP government has made arrangements that no matter wherever you go in the country, you will continue to get free ration. Modi has given you the facility of ‘One Nation One Ration Card'”.
The elections for the 90-member Chhattisgarh legislative assembly will be held in two phases on November 7 and 17. Chhattisgarh is one of the five states going to polls in November and December.
Modi alleged that Congress treated the poor as a ‘vote bank’ and repeatedly deceived them.
The Prime Minister alleged that “the Congress has been emotionally exploiting the poor of the country. Congress’ entire game was in the interest of its family and dhanna seth. For Congress, poor is only vote (bank),” he said.
Modi claimed that the Bhartiya Janata Party worked in the direction of ‘garib kalyan‘ (poor people’s welfare) with patience and honesty.
“For Modi, the poor are the biggest caste in the country and Modi is their ‘sevak‘ (servant), brother and son. The BJP’s policy has resulted in the decline of poverty. In five years, 13.50 crore people have come out of poverty,” he added.
The scheme – Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana – will benefit 80 crore poor people of the country, he said while speaking in poll-bound Chhattisgarh. The Prime Minister’s statement came as the Lok Sabha poll are due next year.
“I have decided that the BJP government will extend the scheme of providing free ration to 80 crore poor people of the country for the next 5 years,” Modi said while speaking in Chhattisgarh’s Durg on Saturday.
The PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PM-GKAY) was started during the time of COVID-19 crisis. According to a government press release, the scheme has provided food security to the poor, needy and the vulnerable households/beneficiaries so that they do not suffer on account of non-availability of adequate foodgrains.
“Effectively it has doubled the quantity of monthly foodgrains entitlements being normally delivered to beneficiaries,” the release published in 2022 read.
Later, in January 2023, the Modi Cabinet approved a new integrated food security scheme for providing free foodgrains to Antodaya Ann Yojna (AAY) and Primary Household (PHH) beneficiaries.
The new scheme was also named as Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana (PMGKAY). The scheme was implemented on January 1, 2023, “benefitting more than 80 crore poor and poorest of poor people”, the government said.
“Keeping in view welfare of the beneficiaries and in order to maintain uniformity across the States, free foodgrains will be provided under PMGKAY for the year 2023 to all PHH and AAY beneficiaries, as per entitlement under the NFSA (National Food Security Act, 2023),” it added.
The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution had then announced that the central government will spend more than ₹2 lakh crore in 2023 as food subsidy under NFSA and other welfare schemes, “to remove the financial burden of the poor and the poorest of the poor”.
The Chhattisgarh Assembly Election 2023 is all set to take place this year in two phases on November 7 and November 17.
“When BJP comes to power in Chhattisgarh, the process of construction of houses for lakhs of poor families will be expedited,” Modi added.
The PMGKAY was started in April 2020 to help the poor amid the COVID pandemic for three months but it was extended later.
Under the free ration scheme, poor families get 5 kg of food grains each month.