Coronavirus Lockdown: Pulse politics in pandemic times

Coronavirus Lockdown: Pulse politics in pandemic times

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Pulse politics has kicked up in the midst of the pandemic. While the government has been repeatedly reeling out figures of food and ration supply to the poor as one month of the 40-day lockdown to fight coronavirus has been completed, Opposition Congress on Saturday raises questions on the supply of free pulses to the poor.

“There are 19.55 crore beneficiaries of the National Food Security Act. Even after a month since announcement, the government has disbursed only 10 percent of free pulses for the poor. While lakhs starve and suffer, the government expects the nation to clap,” Youth Congress said.

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Data of Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution showed that till Wednesday out of total monthly allocation of 1.95 lakh metric ton (LMT) pulses under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana (PMGKAY), only 19,496 ton have been distributed by the states. On Saturday the Government issued a detailed statement. claiming that the “biggest operation for distribution of pulses underway”.

“NAFED is to distribute about 5.88 LMT pulses to about 2 crore NFSA households through ration shops for three months under PMGKAY The operation will involve about two lakh truck trips and loading/unloading over 4 weeks,” Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution said in a press statement.

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The ministry also chose to emphasize that the scale of this operation is massive and “far more complex than food grain movement”.

“Each kg of pulse goes through at least three (in many cases four) trips by truck and as many cycles of loading and unloading. While for long distances, transport is being done through goods trains, in most cases transportation is by road through trucks,” it said.

The ministry also argued that while the exercise is ambitious in normal times,  it is “very challenging during lockdown with many of the dal mills and godowns located in the hotspot areas”.

Starting a hashtag #BalconySarkar, the Congress meanwhile trained guns on the government for having implemented the lockdown abruptly without a single consideration for the lakhs of migrant workers and daily wage earners.

“Thousands across the nation still have no access to food, shelter and water even after walking hundreds of kilometers Shameful.  As much as we respect the decision to impose lockdown, the way it was imposed affecting millions of migrants should be critically examined. The plight of migrants has not changed even after one month of lockdown. They are still struggling for food & shelter,” the Youth Congress said.

Drawing parallels, former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said the government should take full responsibility for this fiasco.

“Migrants are as humans as the NRIs. Similar arrangements could have been made to ensure safe travel for migrants. The miserable response of the government has exposed the classist attitude of the government,” he said.