Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday, February 12, told the legislative assembly that the state would not implement the Union government’s directive to display Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flex boards in front of ration shops across the state. He called it an election stunt and said the government would consider approaching the Election Commission of India (ECI).
Stating that the public distribution system in Kerala has been in existence for a long time, Pinarayi Vijayan said the Union government had issued the directive to use it for BJP’s Lok Sabha election campaign.
Food and Civil Supplies Minister GR Anil said the Union government had told the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and the state department to submit a report after erecting flex boards with Narendra Modi’s photo in 10,000 ration shops in Kerala. The Centre had also directed Kerala to install PM selfie points in 550 ration shops and distribute carry bags with the Union government’s branding.
The minister further alleged that the Union government was violating federal principles of the Constitution by distributing Bharat Rice, a scheme by the Union government, at Rs 29 per kg.
“Kerala has been procuring food grains through the Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS) from the FCI and providing it to customers at ₹24 per kg. The Centre changed the norms by distributing Bharat rice through other outlets without considering the state’s public distribution system and ration shops. While Kerala has been providing grains at a subsidised rate for 57% of the state’s population, the Centre has been providing food grains only to 43% of Kerala’s population under the Food Security Act,” he said, adding that the Union government cannot ensure whether eligible beneficiaries get the guaranteed amount of grains through the outlets.
The Kerala government had organised a massive protest in New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar on February 8 and alleged that the Union government was infringing upon the rights of southern states by imposing financial curbs and eroding federalism.