Namma canteen became Indira canteen, in between came the Appaji canteen, and some of it was confused with Tamil Nadu’s Amma canteen. Clearly, this election season in Karnataka is a battle of the spoons. Seemingly adding to the din is a new outlet in Mandya called Ramya canteen – named after the actor and Congress spokesperson, and bearing her photo on its banner.
But while the actor-politician, who is leading the Congress’s social media campaign nationally, is touted to contest the upcoming polls from Mandya – apparently, the canteen wasn’t started by her.
The eatery was started by an ardent fan of Ramya, reported Deccan Herald. The outlet was also inaugurated by Congress district unit president MS Atmananda, leading to speculation that she owns the place.
However, speaking to Bangalore Mirror, Raghu who owns the shop said, “I used to run a roadside food business. However, when the district administration tried to get rid of the roadside vendors, my business took a hit. Then I started a small canteen. It didn’t attract many customers, so I came up with the idea of calling it Ramya canteen.”
And the low-cost canteen offering a larger variety in the menu also not surprisingly is an instant hit. On Sunday, the shop was sold out and few customers had to leave with an empty stomach.
A local Congress leader reportedly told BM that despite Ramya having no role in this venture, it has created waves in political circles.
The canteens of Karnataka
Ahead of the election year, CM Siddaramaiah was first to introduce the concept of “canteen” politics in Karnataka.
In March 2017, in his address during the state budget, Siddaramaiah announced the setting up of Namma Canteens in the state capital Bengaluru, along the lines of the Amma canteens introduced by late Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa.
The CM announced that 198 Namma Canteens in Bengaluru will serve breakfast and lunch for just Rs 5 and Rs 10 in a bid to win the masses.
Later the canteens were re-christened as Indira Canteens after former PM and party leader Indira Gandhi. After missing multiple deadlines, currently the Indira Canteens functioning in the city have proved to be a success with 1 crore meals served in just two months. The scheme has also earned the ruling Congress, good press from the international media.
Not to fall behind, the Janata Dal (Secular) came up with the idea of Appaji Canteen (named after after former PM and party chief HD Deve Gowda) sensing the potential political mileage in the idea.
In fact, it edged the Namma Canteen with serving its first meal much before its rival.
Set up by party MLC TA Sharavana, the JD (S)’s version of the Indira Canteen in Bengaluru’s Hanumanthanagar serves coffee at Rs 3 and breakfast at Rs 5. The party has claimed it will open canteens across various districts in Karnataka. Other units have also cropped up since then following the warm response it got from customers.