Delhi Chief Minister on Tuesday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealing for the central government’s approval for the doorstep delivery ration scheme. The Delhi government had on Saturday claimed that the Centre had “stalled” its ambitious doorstep delivery of ration scheme that would have benefitted 72 lakh ration cardholders in the national capital and termed the move “politically motivated.”
In his letter, Kejriwal said that his government is ready to implement all the changes that the central government had demanded in the scheme. ‘Approval for the same may kindly be granted so that ration can be delivered to people at their doorstep. ‘
“All the governments, so far, have made the poor stand in queues for ration for the past seventy-five years, please ensure that they do not have to continue standing in queues for the next seventy years, else neither you nor I will be forgiven”, Kejriwal wrote.
The chief minister also underlined that he has always supported the prime minister in matters of national interest and argued that the doorstep delivery ration scheme was in the interest of the country and therefore ‘prime minister must support him’.
“On behalf of the 70 lakh poor in Delhi, I appeal to you with folded hands not to stall the scheme, the scheme is in the national interest, please grant approval for the same,” Kejriwal wrote.
The doorstep delivery of ration scheme is one of the most ambitious and flagship programmes of the Arvind Kejriwal government that has hit many roadblocks through the years. The most recent obstacle was when the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, Anil Baijal returned the file to the elected government with advice for reconsideration. It aims to deliver the ration to 72 lakh beneficiaries at their doorstep.
In a sharp attack on Prime Minister Modi, Kejriwal, in the opening paragraph of his letter asks why has the latter stalled the scheme. “The doorstep delivery of ration was about to be implemented in Delhi from the coming week. Under this scheme, instead of having to stand in line in front of ration shops and suffer humiliation for the ration, the government would have home-delivered packaged ration. All preparations were done. Tenders for the same were also awarded. However, suddenly just two days before roll-out, it was stalled. People are asking, why did you do this?”
According to Kejriwal, the fact that the scheme was stalled days before its implementation pointed to the power and reach of the ‘ ration mafia’. “Had the doorstep delivery of ration scheme been implemented, the ration mafia would have been eliminated. However, look how powerful the ration mafia is? In Delhi, they got it scrapped just a week before it was to be implemented,” the chief minister wrote.
The scheme has been scrapped as it lacked prior approval of the central government, the chief minister further wrote contesting the same and argued that the government of Delhi had sought the approval of the central government, not once but five times. The chief minister also underlined that the GNCDT of Delhi is well within its legal rights not to seek any approval from the central government for the implementation of the scheme.
“People are asking if pizza can be home delivered, burgers can be home delivered, clothes and smartphones can be home delivered, why can ration be home delivered to the poor,” he adds.
Kejriwal then brings the ongoing case in the high court related to this case to the attention of the Prime Minister. Pointing out that the central government is also a party to the case which has been cited as one of the reasons for stalling the rollout of the scheme. Arguing that this cannot ever be a ground for the scrapping of the scheme, Kejriwal argues that while the ration dealers had moved the High Court for a stay on the implementation of the scheme, the high court had not granted the same so how can the central government ‘grant a stay?
“If the central government stand with the ration mafia, who will stand with the poor, Sir?” Kejriwal tells Modi in his letter. He also highlighted that the central government had not raised any objection to the scheme in the high court despite being a party.
The central government’s position on the doorstep delivery of ration scheme of the Delhi government is that the latter is free to have any such scheme, give it any name but it should be separate from the PDS scheme under the National Food Security Act. The central government is also willing to provide the necessary foodgrain for the same if the government of Delhi so requires, it had said. Addressing this question, Kejriwal tells the Prime Minister, “Since when are you and I separate? Since when is the central government separate from the Delhi government? Since when have your schemes been separate from ours? Everything belongs to the country, to the people of the country. Will there be two schemes on the same issue – one run by the central government and one run by the state government?”
Kejriwal also assured the prime minister that contrary to reports in the media the government of Delhi is not adding any charge that has not been allowed by the central government.