Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy on Thursday confirmed that the "Anna Bhagya" (free rice) scheme piloted by former CM Siddaramaiah will continue as it is.
Kumaraswamy made the announcement in the floor of the Assembly. This after Siddaramaiah requested the government to roll back its decision to reduce the amount of rice given as per the scheme from 7 kg to 5 kg.
Kumaraswamy also announced in the House that the number of ration card holders in the state has gone up from 1 crore to 1.29 crore.
Kumaraswamy said, "I have been criticised for changes in the Anna Bhagya scheme and Siddaramaiah has also made an appeal. We will continue the scheme as is," reported The New Indian Express.
However, he did not comment further on the issue. In the budget presented by Kumaraswamy earlier this month, the amount of rice given as per the scheme was reduced from 7 kg to 5 kg citing a burden on the exchequer to procure rice.
But in a letter to CM Kumraswamy, former CM Siddaramaiah requested the provision of seven kilograms of rice distributed as part of "Anna Bhagya" (free rice) scheme to be retained.
"By reducing the amount of rice given by 2 kgs, we can make savings of Rs 600-700 crores at most. But I believe you can imagine the kind of difficulty this causes for the poor. Already, we are receiving reports of discontent from party workers in various districts," reads the letter.
Siddaramaiah's appeal was backed by several other leaders cutting across party lines.
It appears Kumaraswamy has conceded to Siddaramaiah's request and allowed the scheme to continue as before. The scheme was introduced by Siddaramaiah in his tenure as Chief Minister and is considered the pet project of the former CM. He is also the head of the Coalition Coordination committee set up to ensure the smooth functioning of the current coalition government.