On lines of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Give Up LPG Subsidy’ scheme, the Mamata Banerjee government will soon launch a campaign appealing to the well-off to “surrender your ration card” to provide needy persons subsidised food grain.

According to the state food minister, Jyotipriyo Mullick, this campaign does not mean that the state government will cancel ration cards or deny them to people who can afford to purchase food items at market price.

“As per the instructions of the chief minister, everyone applying for ration cards will be provided that. But at the same time, we will appeal moneyed persons (to surrender their ration cards) so that more people can be brought under the state government’s subsidised food grain scheme,” he said.

The minister assured that this would be just an appeal from the state government and there was no compulsion.

According to him, around 8.5 crore people in Bengal are covered under chief minister’s pet “Khadya Sathi” scheme, that provides rice and wheat at Rs 2 per kilogramme to needy families.

The state government has spent around Rs 4,500 crore under “Khadya Sathi” scheme, as per an official statement issued by Trinamool Congress recently.

In Bengal there are four ration card categories. Under the Antyodaya Anna Yojana ration cards, 15 kg of rice and 20 kg of wheat are provided every month to each family under this category at Rs 2 per kg.

Under priority householder and special priority householder ration cards, 2 kg of rice and 3 kg of wheat are provided at Rs 2 per kg every month. The same is applicable under the third category, which includes cardholders under state food security scheme-1.

Under the fourth category, which includes cardholders under state food security scheme-2, 1 kg of rice at Rs 13 per kg and 1 kg of wheat at Rs 9 per kg are provided every month.

In March 2015, Modi had launched a “give up LPG subsidy” campaign, appealing to people capable of affording market price for LPG to voluntarily surrender the subsidy given on this count.

Economist and former Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) professor, Dipankar Dasguopta said the idea of the campaign is good.

“As far as I know, the response to the Prime Minister’s ‘Give up LPG subsidy’ campaign was good enough, and I think that response will be good for the state’s ‘surrender ration cards’.”

“From the economic point of view, there should not be any objection to the scheme. If at all there is any objection that will be just politically motivated,” Dasgupta said.

Giving a backhanded compliment to the Trinamool, BJP’s general secretary in West Bengal, Sayantan Basu said that on the one hand Trinamool Congress was constantly criticising the Prime Minister and the Centre’s policies, but on the other hand it was replicating their ideas at the state level.

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