AP offers rice at Re 1 per kg to BPL families

AP offers rice at Re 1 per kg to BPL families

Ration shops to distribute locally produced fine variety

Rice politics are back again in Andhra Pradesh with a new attractive package of Re 1 per kg and that too with distribution of only locally produced fine rice variety in public distribution system outlets.

Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy is all set to re-do the act of former chief minister K Vijaybhaskar Reddy in 1982 of pre-empting N T Rama Rao’s poll promise of Rs 2 per kg rice. Reddy offered rice at Rs 1.50 per kg to woo voters but the voters gave a thumping 202-of-the-294-seats-mandate in the 1983 January polls to NTR’s Telugu Desam Party (TDP) which the then superstar of Telugu cinema founded just nine months ahead of a general election .Kiran Kumar Reddy on Wednesday launched the scheme in a new package - Mana Biyyam (our rice) at Re 1 per kg for BPL families at 25 kg each per month.
The scheme launched on a pilot basis in five districts entailed an expenditure of Rs 9,600 crore per annum, involving 40 lakh tonnes of rice distribution per month.

Regional flavour

The scheme also has the regional flavour with the slogan “AP rice for AP residents,” thereby negating the Food Corporation of India’s distribution of Punjab rice in other states. The chief minister said through this scheme people will be able to get quality rice which is locally produced rather than the rice of Punjab or Haryana distributed by the FCI which is not relished by the locals. The rice scheme is one of the several programmes of the Kiran Kumar Reddy Government to attract the vote banks of Y S Jaganmohan Reddy, Telangana Rashtra Samiti and the TDP. The state government recently released Rs 1,000 crore to fulfill his promises to people in rural areas during his another pet programme of Indiramma Bata in the last three months.

Reddy is leaving no stone unturned to ensure the longevity of his rule till 2014 and beyond as well amidst strong rumours from Delhi and also here that his days were numbered.

In spite of the heavy financial burden the chief minister had revived the Arogyasree scheme of free health for all, tuition fee reimbursement and now the free rice scheme, which cost the state exchequer a whopping Rs 26,000 crore.

Political philosphy

The rice scheme, which offers food security, has been the basic political philosophy of the Congress and the TDP ever since it was initiated by the AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu. NTR launched the scheme at Rs 2 per kg to nearly 40 lakh BPL families when the subsidy burden was just Rs 175 crore in 1983. The subsequent Chandrababu Naidu government, however, pegged the subsidy to Rs 5 in the scheme when the burden shot up to nearly Rs 1,200 crore in 2001. When Y S Rajasekhara Reddy returned to power in 2004 he resumed the rice scheme at Rs 2 per kg in spite of the huge subsidy burden of Rs 14 per kg at Rs 1,800 crore but he reduced the quantum from 25 to 20 kg. Now, after the Centre has taken up the rice scheme as a food subsidy the state has taken the programme further. As a counter to the Congress programme of Re 1 per kg scheme, the TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu has offered to provide 25 kg of rice free of cost to all BPL families.