Within an hour after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the extension of free food grains for poor till November, given the surging coronavirus situation in the country, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, in what appears as an attempt to outsmart PM Modi, declared that she will provide free ration for another 12 months, till June 2021.
I am extending free ration for poor till June 2021: West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee pic.twitter.com/voJlqfwUuc— ANI (@ANI) June 30, 2020
PM Modi announces free ration to poor till November 2020
Earlier today, PM Modi, in his address to the nation, announced that the centre’s key central scheme—PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) will be extended till the end of November in which free ration will be provided to the poor. The scheme is set to cost Rs 90,000 crore to the government, PM Modi said.
While highlighting the work done by the central government to alleviate the concerns of poor adversely affected by the coronavirus induced lockdown, PM Modi said that the scheme to provide free ration to the poor will continue for an additional five months, adding that 80 crore people will get the benefit from the scheme.
Eye on the West Bengal state elections?
It is worth noting that the measure by the Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal comes at a time when she is facing tough headwinds from the BJP in the state, which was also reflected in the General elections held in 2019 where the saffron party won an unprecedented 18 Lok Sabha seats. The state of West Bengal is scheduled to go to polls in 2021 and it is all but impossible to view Mamata Banerjee’s push for pro-poor policies independent of the forthcoming state elections in 2021.