‘Delhi govt is under ration mafia’, claims Ravi Shankar Prasad; tussle over doorstep delivery scheme continues

Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Friday accused the Delhi government of being “under the control of the ration mafia”, as the tussle between the Centre and state government continued over the latter’s proposed scheme to deliver subsidised food grains to people’s houses.

“Arvind Kejriwal is talking about home delivery of ration when he even failed to provide oxygen to the people of Delhi. The Delhi government is under the control of the ration mafia,” Prasad said, adding that the Delhi government is yet to adopt the Union government’s ‘One nation, one ration card’ scheme.

“Thirty four states/UTs have adopted the ‘One nation, One ration card’ scheme. Only three states —  Delhi, West Bengal and Assam have not adopted it. Arvind Kejriwal should answer why the scheme has not been implemented in Delhi?” he questioned.

The AAP and BJP have traded accusations about the initiative since 6 June, when Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking why the doorstep delivery scheme had been stalled by the Centre.

The issue so far

In his letter to Modi, Kejriwal asked, “If pizza, burgers, smartphones and clothes can be delivered at home, then why can’t ration be delivered at their doorstep?”

In response, BJP leaders Sambit Patra and Parvesh Sahib Singh slammed the Delhi government.

Patra, the saffron party spokesperson, claimed that the Centre prevented a “big scam” that the AAP government was allegedly planning to commit by “diverting” subsidised food grains.

Singh also hit out at Kejriwal saying, “If Arvind Kejriwal wants to distribute ration to people’s homes, then he is welcome to do so — as much as he wants. I will ensure that he gets the permission. The only thing is the Delhi government must buy that ration.”

अगर @ArvindKejriwal को घर घर राशन बाँटना है तो बाँटे – स्वागत है , जितना मर्ज़ी दे , मैं आपको पर्मिशन दिलाता हूँ । बस वो राशन दिल्ली सरकार ख़रीदे , इतनी सी बात है। आज से ही शुरू करे।

— Parvesh Sahib Singh (@p_sahibsingh) June 7, 2021

The Delhi government had on 5 June alleged that the doorstep delivery of ration scheme was rejected by the Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, saying the Centre’s approval was not sought and that a litigation was pending in the high court regarding it.

Kejriwal has claimed that they do not ‘legally’ need the Centre’s approval, but they sought it out of courtesy.

However, an article in The Times of India quoted sources in the L-G’s office as saying that he has not rejected the scheme as is being portrayed” and has only asked that the constitutional scheme of things be followed in letter and spirit.

Tussle over ration delivery ongoing since 2018

The Delhi Cabinet first approved a scheme in March 2018 for home delivery of rations under Targeted Public Distribution System to all ration beneficiaries. According to a statement by the Aam Aadmi Party at that time, “The proposal is aimed at providing a higher level of transparency in delivery system through inbuilt online monitoring system which will weed out corruption and diversion of food grains. It will save time and resources of ration beneficiaries of Delhi.”

However, the scheme could not be implemented because of numerous administrative issues, largely revolving around methodologies allowed under the National Food Security Act. In June 2018, this was among the issues for which Kejriwal and several of his ministers sat on a nine-day dharna inside the Delhi L-G’s office. However, the issue was not resolved, this Firstpost report noted.

With inputs from agencies

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