Extension of PMGKAY to provide free foodgrain to poor a ‘poll gimmick’: BJD

Bhubaneswar: Odisha’s ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) today termed the extension of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) to provide free foodgrain to the poor for five more years a “poll gimmick”.

BJD’s Rajanagar MLA Dhruba Charan Sahu termed the Union Cabinet’s decision to extend the scheme a poll gimmick.

“The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre has always duped poor and common people. You can see how the central schemes have been discontinued after the Narendra Modi-led government came to power. The prices of essential commodities have skyrocketed. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the centre reduced the foodgrains provided under the PMGKAY by half to 5 kg. As the general election is approaching, it is a gimmick by the Centre in way of extending this yojana for five more years. The government has extended the timeline in view of the impending polls,” the BJD MLA said.

Sahu further questioned why the distribution of 5kg free foodgrain under the PMGKAY was stopped? The BJP and the government at Centre need to answer this.

On the other hand, the state unit BJP said that the Centre provided foodgrains to the state completely free where the latter did not have to incur any expenses towards it.

“The Centre provided free foodgrains during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Rs 2-a-kg rice scheme which the Naveen Patnaik government had been taking all the credit for it all these years by putting CM’s picture on it was also made free for the state. Neither the state government nor the beneficiary had to pay anything to avail the benefits of the scheme. Prime Minister Narendra Modi made it completely free. The scheme has only been extended,” BJP MLA Nauri Nayak reacted.

The saffron party leader from Rengali assembly segment accused the BJD government of launching schemes to secure votes during elections.

“Narendra Modi continues the schemes launched by his government but Naveen Patnaik introduces schemes keeping an eye on the elections. The schemes are discontinued post elections,” he stated.

Citing examples, the legislator said the PEETHA scheme and Biju Yuva Vahini were launched just before the last elections. Where are the schemes now? Where was Biju Yuva Vahini during Covid-19 pandemic? The BJD devices schemes to pocket votes. They are not long-term initiatives and people of the state hardly get any benefit out of it.

Commenting on the inter-state Mahanadi river water dispute, Nayak said that as long as the BJP government was in power in Chhattisgarh the BJD government vociferously raised the issue and its voice was muted after the Congress government came to power in the neighbouring state. It speaks volumes of their intention.

Earlier in the day, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur said that the Centre is extending the PMGKAY scheme to provide 5 kg of free foodgrain per month to 81 crore poor people for another five years, effective from January 1, 2024. The scheme will cost the government nearly Rs 11.8 lakh crore over the next five years.

The scheme is envisoned to ensure food security for the poor.

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