The Congress on Tuesday attacked the government for approving the use of surplus rice to produce sanitizer, with Rahul Gandhi alleging that while the poor are dying of hunger their portion of rice is being used to clean the hands of the rich.
“After all, when will India’s poor wake up? You are dying of hunger and they are busy cleaning the hands of the rich by making sanitizers from your portion of rice,” he said in a tweet in Hindi.
Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera also said the country was going through a very painful time, and while many people face food scarcity, rice is being given out for making sanitizers.
He said there were several reports that migrant labourers walking miles and miles for days to reach their homes struggled for food, even though Food Corporation of India godowns are full.
He said the surplus food grain reserves should have been used to expand the food safety net.
There has been a demand from various quarters to universalise the PDS . let’s assume for a minute that even if we have to feed 80% of our population for the next 6 months under universalised PDS, giving them 10kg of food grains per month, do you know we are capable of doing that for the next 6 months,” he said.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi has also requested the government to ensure that people, who do not qualify for the Right to Food Act, are given food grains free of cost, he said.
“In a scenario like this, if you come and announce that okay, rice, extra rice, surplus rice will be used to make sanitizers, it is a cruel joke,” he said.
Mr. Khera urged the government to ask the distilleries to use their infrastructure to make sanitizer.
Instead of announcing that 10 kg food grains will be given to all families whether or not they are under the PDS, the government announced that surplus rice will be used to make sanitizers, he said.
This is shocking beyond belief.
The Congress has been highlighting the problem of the poor and vulnerable sections in society since the lockdown was imposed on March 25 to contain the spread of coronavirus in the country.
The opposition party has been urging the government to grant free ration to all of them as well as provide ₹7,500 in the bank accounts of every person to help them tide over the crisis due to the coronavirus-forced lockdown.
The government on Monday approved that surplus rice available with Food Corporation of India (FCI) can be converted into ethanol in order to manufacture alcohol-based hand sanitizers and also for blending with petrol.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the National Biofuel Coordination Committee (NBCC).
Meanwhile, Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan asserted that there is no shortage of food grains in the country for the poor and asked Rahul Gandhi to shun his "negative mindset".
Mr. Paswan hit back at Rahul Gadhi and questioned if he does not want the economically weaker sections to use sanitizers and masks.