The Centre and the AAP government have been at loggerheads over the scheme. Stressing on its significance during the pandemic, the CM suggested that ration should be delivered at the doorstep of the poor across the country and they should not be required to queue up outside fair price shops.
Don’t make poor stand in queue for next 75 yrs: CM
The previous governments have made the poor stand in the ration queue for 75 years. Don’t make them stand in that queue for the next 75 years, sir. They will never forgive me and you,” Kejriwal stated in a strongly worded letter in Hindi. The CM stressed that the AAP government was ready to make all changes that the Centre may suggest.
Lieutenant governor Anil Baijal, a representative of the Centre, had recently returned the file to the Delhi government without giving his approval. The Centre’s stance is that because the scheme seeks to change the method of ration distribution, it would mandatorily require prior approval of the central government under the National Food Security Act 2013. The move blocked the scheme a few days before its planned launch. It sparked a confrontation between the AAP government and the Centre with the CM asking why ration cannot be delivered to people’s homes if pizzas are allowed to be delivered.
Kejriwal said in the letter that for the past 75 years, the ration mafia has been exploiting the poor. Ration is being released every month on file but the poor do not get their quota and most of it is siphoned off. “It is believed that the ration mafia is well-connected to power. No government dared to eradicate them in 75 years. Delhi government has dared to do it for the first time. Implementation of the doorstep delivery of ration scheme would have eradicated them. But see how powerful the ration mafia is. The scheme got rejected a week before it was slated to be launched,” wrote the CM.
“The scheme was rejected on the ground that we have not taken the Centre’s approval. It is wrong, sir. We took your approval not once but five times. Legally, we do not require any approval from the Centre to implement this scheme. Legally, the state government is competent enough to implement this scheme. We did not want any confrontation with the Centre, so we took your approval five times,” said Kejriwal, attaching copies of all the letters written to the Centre.
The Delhi food minister had informed the Centre through letters between February 2019 and December 2020 about the scheme and the Centre had not raised any objection. The Delhi government notified the scheme on February 20 this year and tenders were floated. The scheme was slated to be rolled out on March 25, but the Centre raised some objections on March 19 and stopped it.
“We accepted all the objections and made the necessary amendments. One of your objections was to the scheme being named after the chief minister. We never intended to get publicity. We accepted your objection and removed the name of the scheme. Even then you say that we did not take your approval and rejected the scheme?” said Kejriwal. “I will tell the world that the doorstep delivery scheme has been implemented by the PM,” Kejriwal said.
He rejected the argument that since a writ petition had been filed by the Delhi Sarkari Ration Dealers Sangh in the high court challenging the scheme, the scheme has been rejected. The HC refused to give a stay on the scheme, said the CM, wondering how then could the Centre refuse approval.
“If the Centre stands with the ration mafia, then who will stand with the poor of this country, sir? Kejriwal asked in the letter. Objecting to the Centre’s suggestion that the AAP government can float a separate scheme rather than tamper with the Centre’s scheme, Kejriwal asked how both state and the Centre can run two separate schemes on the same issue in one country. He asked whether it would be wise for both the Centre and the Delhi government to spend Rs 2,000 crore each on ration distribution.