Karnataka minister wants closure of Indira Canteens

Karnataka minister wants closure of Indira Canteens

C T RAVI. (DH Photo)

With the BJP government in Karnataka mulling over changing the name of state-sponsored subsidised 'Indira Canteens' launched by the previous Congress administration, a minister on Wednesday urged Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa to close them down, alleging irregularities. "There is no question of hate politics, there is irregularity happening. While the food was served to about 20 people, numbers of 200 were shown.

They should be ashamed for doing it," Tourism minister C T Ravi said.

Speaking to reporters here, he said Rs 1 crore was spent on each Indira Canteen for Congress' "political benefit."

Ravi said there should be accountability while spending tax payer's money. "There is no one in the state who cannot afford food. It (canteen) was a conspiracy by the Congress party to loot money in the name of poor.

Chief Minister has not yet taken any decision, but I request him to shut Indira Canteen, by doing so we can prevent waste of government money," he said.

"...check out records, you will get to know whose relatives have been given the contract," the minister said.

Ravi's comment came a day after his senior colleague and Revenue minister R Ashoka said changing the name of Indira Canteen to 'Maharshi Valmiki Anna Kuteera' was under the government's consideration. Ashoka claimed there were several complaints about Indira canteen and quality of food and the way it was being run by inflating number of plates of food being served, among other things.

The minister also said he received a request to rename Indira canteen as Maharshi Valmiki Anna Kuteera from BJP MLA Rajugouda. "It is under consideration as it was not limited to one particular party, but for all communities. I will discuss with Chief Minister on name change," Ashoka said on Tuesday.

However, Ashoka noted that as Bengaluru city did not come under his preview, the name change was being considered at places other than the city for now.

Ravi alleged that the subsidised food canteens was named after former prime minister, late Indira Gandhi for political reasons. Commenting on renaming, Ravi said "if Congress' money is used to run them, we don't have any issues.

It will be a penance for their (Congress) sins of looting public money by doing so (serving food for poor from Congress' money)," he added.

Indira Canteen providing breakfast at Rs 5 and lunch and dinner at a cost of Rs 10, was the pet project of the previous Siddaramaiah-led Congress government.

The move to rename the canteens after Valmiki, who wrote the mythological Hindu epic 'Ramayana', is seen as an attempt by the BJP to woothe Valmiki community (ST) that has considerable presence in the state.

Condemning the BJP government's proposal to change the name, Siddaramaiah said it has to stop these kind of petty politics to divert the attention of actual issues. In a tweet, he said Indira Gandhi fought for the rights of poor and took steps to address hunger issues.

"She is not just @INCIndia leader but a leader for the whole nation. She protected the interests of common man. This was the reason for naming the canteen after her," Siddaramaiah tweeted Tuesday night.

"There is a news that @BJP4Karnataka wants to name #IndiraCanteen after Maharshi Valmiki. We have great respect for Maharshi Valmiki but it is sad that BJP is using his name for political reasons," he said. "..let the govt (sic) implement a scheme that complements his achievements and name it after him, I shall welcome the same," Siddaramaiah said.

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