Karnataka Congress revives ‘Anna Bhagya’ as poll guarantee: 10 kg free rice for BPL families

It announced two other guarantees: 200 units of free electricity to every house and ₹2,000 per month for every woman head of the family.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Feb 24, 2023 | 7:52 PMUpdatedFeb 24, 2023 | 7:54 PM

Karnataka Congress revives ‘Anna Bhagya’ as poll guarantee: 10 kg free rice for BPL families

With the Karnatka unit of the Congress keen on furthering the image of Siddaramaiah as “Annaramaiah” over his subsidised free grains scheme, the party has revived its government’s flagship scheme as a poll “guarantee”.

On Friday, 24 February, Karnataka Congress leaders announced the party’s third “guarantee”: The “Anna Bhagya” scheme for all Below Poverty Line (BPL) cardholders in the state.

This is effectively the party reviving a scheme introduced by it in 2013 under the Siddaramaiah government, but with slight changes.

Popular scheme becomes poll promise

KPCC president DK Shivakumar announced that the Congress would give 10 kg of free rice under the Public Distribution System (PDS) for BPL cardholders if the party was voted into power.

“The Prajadhwani Yatra has successfully covered 100 Assembly seats and reached 24 districts. During the yatra, many people complained to us about the ruling BJP government reducing PDS rice to just 5 kg. We have decided to increase it from the current 5 kg to 10 kg if the Congress comes to power in the 2023 Assembly polls,” declared Shivakumar.

The KPCC president claimed that the revival of Anna Bhagya was decided upon after detailed discussions with the central leadership of the party, including AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi and Randeep Singh Surjewala.

“The main intention behind announcing Anna Bhagya is to make Karnataka a hunger-free state. Not a single person should sleep on an empty stomach,” Shivakumar said.

The other two guarantees announced by Congress are the Gruha Jyothi Yojana, which assures 200 units of free electricity to every household in the state, and the Gruha Lakshmi Yojana, which assures ₹2,000 per month for every woman head of the family as a universal basic income.

Also read: ‘Revdi’ by BJP government in Karnataka budget 2023

How Anna Bhagya changed over the years

The Congress’ populist welfare scheme — Anna Bhagya — was implemented by the then chief minister Siddaramaiah in 2013 at an annual cost of ₹4,400 crore.

Under this scheme, the government used to provide 10 kg of rice at ₹1 per kg to nearly 9.8 million BPL families.

A family with one person used to get 10 kg per month, two-member families would get 20 kg, and bigger families would get a maximum of 30 kg per month during the Congress’ tenure (2013-2018).

In 2021, the then chief minister BS Yediyurappa did not make any budgetary allocation for Anna Bhagya. Eventually, it was merged with the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY).

Under PMGKAY, 5 kg of food grains is provided to every BPL cardholder in the country.

In North Karnataka, people are given wheat and jowar along with rice, whereas ragi is given under in South Karnataka PDS for a year now.

Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah told reporters on Friday: “We will implement this Anna Bhagya Yojana within one month of coming to power. This scheme will largely benefit daily wage workers and labourers.”

On multiple occasions, BJP leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, have claimed credit for distributing free food grains to poor citizens of the country during the Covid-19 pandemic under the PMGKAY. Siddaramaiah responded to the claims on Friday.

“BJP leaders have to remember that it was during the Manmohan Singh regime that the Congress brought the National Food Security Act (NFSA). The BJP government, pointing to financial difficulties, reduced the quantity of rice to 5 kg,” added Siddaramaiah.

The main objective of the NFSA is to provide food and nutritional security by ensuring access to adequate quantity of quality food at affordable prices to people to live with dignity, according to the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.

Related: Karnataka Congress promises 200 units of free electricity

On current Karnataka Chief Minister Bommai calling Anna Bhagya a “Union government programme”, Siddaramaiah said: “If the chief minister claims it as a Union government programme, why has the scheme not been implemented in Gujarat and other BJP-ruled states?”

He added: “Our (Congress) government was the first to implement this poor-friendly programme in the country. It was the Manmohan Singh-led Union government that brought the food security act, not Modi.”

Responding to Bommai’s criticism, Shivakumar said: “They (the BJP) are fools. We are not bribing any voters; these guarantee promises are part of our manifesto for the 2023 Karnataka Assembly polls.”

He pointed out: “The BJP had made 600 poll promises but delivered barely 50 promises. The 2023-24 fiscal budget itself is to fool the people of Karnataka. Let the BJP list out how many programmes it has implemented from the last two budgets.”

Shivakumar mocks Amit Shah for ‘corruption’ comment

On Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s assurance to root out corruption in Karnataka if voted to power, Shivakumar thanked him for admitting that corruption had peaked in Karnataka.

“Karnataka has become the capital of corruption in India. He (Shah) knows that the Congress will come to power and deliver good governance. I am very happy that he promised to make Karnataka free from corruption if the BJP came to power. He has admitted that corruption has peaked in Karnataka,” said Shivakumar.

On Shah’s allegations of Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar fighting for the chief minister’s post, Siddaramaiah said: “There is infighting in the BJP, not the Congress. We are aspirants. Even Shivakumar is one of the aspirants for the chief minister’s post. There is nothing wrong if anyone has an aspiration to become the chief minister of Karnataka.”

Siddaramaiah responds to Bommai’s ‘land scam’ allegation

Bommai on Thursday came down heavily on the Congress and accused its leaders of involvement in corruption.

Bommai, who has been the target of the Congress’ PayCM campaign, responded to allegations of corruption against his government by levelling corruption charges against the Congress.

“Siddaramaiah claims that not an inch of land has been denotified in the Arkavathy layout, but the Justice Kempanna report has mentioned the loss caused to the state. The government identified 805 acres of land in the name of ‘Re-Do’. The commission observed that it had been done to help some vested interests and the formation of the Arkavathy layout is a big scam. Why did the government hush up the report when it came before the Cabinet?” asked Bommai.

Responding to the allegations, Siddaramaiah said: “The process of Arkavathy layout notification for 2,750 acres was completed even before our government came to power. When our government came to power, there was a proposal and pressure on us. I had given a nod only after our officials told me that they had done things as per the directions of the Supreme Court.”

Siddaramaiah added that he constituted a judicial committee under the headship of retired high court judge Kempanna. After two years of investigation, Siddaramaiah said, the committee submitted a report that clearly mentioned that he “had not denotified any land”.

“The report claimed that it was notified during Kumaraswamy, Yediyurappa, and the Governor’s rule,” Siddaramaiah said.

Also read: Congress announces Gruha Lakshmi Yojana for housewives