Assembly polls due in Bengal next year, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today outstripped Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s promise to provide free grain to people till Chhath Puja — usually held in November. In Bengal, people will receive free ration till June next year, the Chief Minister said. Mr Banerjee also took on the Centre over its reaction towards China following the June 15 clash in Ladakh in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed in action.
Bengal goes to polls next year, in which the BJP has emerged as the chief challenger of Ms Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, which has been ruling the state for a decade. In the general elections last year, the BJP, which so far had two of Bengal’s 42 Lok Sabha seats, won 18.
“Bengal will give free ration till June 2021,” Ms Banerjee said this evening, minutes after PM Modi’s address to the nation.
“The quality of ration is better than that of the Centre,” she also claimed, adding, “Only 60 per cent people in Bengal get central rations”
Earlier today, PM Modi said a key government scheme to distribute free foodgrain to 80 crore of India’s poorest — started with the countrywide lockdown against coronavirus in March — will be extended till November-end to provide relief during the festival season.
“Keeping in mind all the festivals that are coming up in the next few months, this scheme to provide 80 crore people with 5 kg free ration and 1 kg dal (pulses) per month will now be extended till Diwali and Chhath Puja, or till the end of November,” PM Modi said, addressing the nation for the sixth time after the coronavirus outbreak.
Ms Banerjee also took on the government over its yesterday’s ban of 59 apps with Chinese links.
“Only banning some apps will not give result. We want to give China a befitting reply. The government has to decide on that,” she said, dismissing the Prime Minister’s claim that China has already been given a “befitting response”.
The government’s move, which it said was made in view of security risk, came amid a strong economic backlash against China following the events in Ladakh. The move came a day after PM Modi said India has given a “befitting response” to China. He also spoke of the countrywide call for boycott of Chinese goods, juxtaposing it against the government’s “Atma Nirbhar Bharat” campaign.