Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday expressed her anger at Kamareddy Collector Jitesh V. Patil when she did not find Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s picture at a fair price shop in Birkur mandal headquarters village.
Apparently annoyed that the Centre is supplying free rice to the poor under the Prime Minister’s Garib Kalyan Yojana to overcome the effects of COVID-19 and yet flex boards carrying Mr. Modi’s picture did not find a place in fair price shops of Telangana, Ms. Sitharaman frowned at the Collector that the Centre was within its rights to see the pictures of a great person like Mr. Modi at shops as it supplied the rice free by ensuring logistics in place, free transport, and storage. The pictures were essential to see that the rice reached the poor.
The Finance Minister, on a visit to Zaheerabad Lok Sabha constituency since Thursday as part of BJP’s Lok Sabha Pravas Yojana, visited the ration shop at Birkur.
Speaking to the Collector at the shop, she said, “The Central Government has been giving free rice and I have come here to find out if it is really reaching the people. Can you tell me how much the Centre is paying, the contribution of the State Government, and how much you are charging from people before the free supply came about during March-April 2020 when the pandemic started?”
When the Collector mumbled about a higher contribution from the State Government, Ms. Sitharaman got annoyed and gave him half an hour to get the details. “Do you want to rethink your answer as an IAS officer of the Telangana cadre? Please find out the correct figure,” she said and when someone from her party wanted to answer, she retorted: “I am sure he knows, let him answer”.
She also said that when the market price per kg was ₹32-35 in the pre-pandemic period, the Centre had been paying about ₹28-30, State Government ₹2/3, and the beneficiary paid just ₹1 to which Mr. Patil too, seemed to have concurred. “The Modi government is now giving free rice, including transport, storage, and logistics. Prime Minister’s posters are not put up anywhere when it should be there throughout Telangana,” she said.
“Whenever our party puts up Mr. Modi’s photo or banner, it is torn or removed. Can you ensure as a District Collector that it does not happen in the future? I will return to this place and check,” she said. The Minister said that Telangana had received 23,95,272 metric tonnes of foodgrains free of cost from the Centre under the PM Garib Kalyan Yojana and there are 1.91 crore beneficiaries.
Earlier, the Finance Minister’s convoy was sought to be obstructed by Youth Congress workers at Kamareddy. The local police had to intervene to separate the groups armed with sticks. After much jostling and slogan-shouting, the groups were dispersed. Ms. Sitharaman had breakfast with party worker T. Siva Prasad at Birkur village and lunch with another party worker B. Ramu at Rudrur.