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Populist measure : Rahul Gandhi launches ‘Indira Canteen’ in Bengaluru

Picture Courtesy : Hindustan Times
Picture Courtesy : Hindustan Times

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday launched the Karnataka government’s flagship programme ‘Indira Canteen’ in Bengaluru along with state Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. This is the Congress vice-president’s second visit to the state in a week. In a tweet today, Rahul said: “Indira Canteen is another step towards the “Food for All” commitment of the Congress. I congratulate the Karnataka Govt for this initiative.” The Indira canteens will serve fresh hot lunch and dinner for Rs 10 and breakfast for Rs 5.

Subsequently, at a public rally in Bengaluru, Rahul said: “Proud that it is a Congress govt that conceptualized this canteen. Breakfast to be served for Rs 5, lunch/dinner for Rs 10.” He also took a dig at the BJP and said: “You will see BJP leaders queuing up to eat this food.”

According to the scheme and the various media reports , 101 canteens will be opened in the initial phase. More will be opened in 97 wards from October 2 to mark Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birthday. Initially referred to as ‘Namma Canteen’, the name was later changed to ‘Indira Canteen’ as Congress legislators sought to give a political touch to the populist announcement ahead of the Assembly polls early next year by naming it after former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

To set up Indira Canteens in at least 198 wards of Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, a total amount of Rs 100 crore was provided in the budget. Commenting on the canteen programme, Rahul Gandhi said it is designed to make sure that not a single person in Bengaluru goes hungry. Calling the world an “unfair place”, the Congress vice president, who also had a lunch at the canteen, said it is targeted at the working class like construction workers and auto rickshaw drivers.

“There are many people in this city who live in huge houses and have plenty of food, who drive in big cars and for them food is not a big issue..but there are millions of people in Bengaluru like construction workers, those who own small shops, autorickshaw or taxi drivers, barbers and people who don’t get that much money, and it is those people at whom this Indira Canteen is targeted,” he said. “We want the people from poorest and weakest sections in Bengaluru to feel that they will not have to stay hungry in this city. There cannot be a single minute where a poor person in Bengaluru is hungry. We want every single person to know and understand that,” he added.

Aside from Rahul, state Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Congress General Secretary in-charge of the state K C Venugopal, the party’s state unit chief G Parameshwara and Bengaluru in-charge Minister K J George, among others were present at the event.

“I would like the government to pay special attention to this fact that the canteen should have excellent quality food, excellent hygiene and people walking out of this canteen must feel that they not only had safe food, but tasty food. I think we owe this to every single citizen,” he told PTI.

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