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Rice at Rs 2 per kg is unimaginable elsewhere: Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan

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New Delhi, June 11 : The “last two years have been extremely satisfactory” as certain basic issues of people’s livelihood could be addressed, Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan has said, but lamented that while the Centre bears the cost of providing subsidised rice at Rs 2 kg, it is the states which claim the credit for this.

“While we give subsidies from the Centre, the states run away with the credit and the media blames the (Narendra) Modi government. I have said this in Parliament also. I would like to tell that claims made by certain states that they are providing rice and paddy free of cost to the people is not true. It’s the Centre which is giving this,” Paswan asserted in an interview to IANS.

“Nowhere in the planet can you imagine the quantum of government intervention to ensure PDS (public distribution system) supply for the poor and the needy. Rice at Rs 2 per kg is unimaginable elsewhere,” Paswan said.

“If the price of rice is Rs 30 per kg, then the Centre is giving a subsidy of Rs 28 and the consumers pay just Rs 2,” the minister stressed.

“The contribution from the Uttar Pradesh government is zero. In Bihar also it’s zero. If the price of wheat is Rs 20 per kg, we are feeding the entire country at the rate of Rs 2. Our work in the last two years has been revolutionary,” Paswan maintained.

Little wonder then, Paswan said, running the Food Ministry was a “thankless job” wherein no credit is given for bringing down the prices.

“It is a thankless job. Compared to last year, prices of various items like wheat and rice have decreased. Compared to May 2016, prices of pulses like Mung and Urad have now decreased as well. But no one will give credit for the good work and proper planning,” Paswan said.

“Onion prices fall due to good harvest but the farmers suffer because of poor marketing which fetches them just Rs 3 per kg, and then we are accused of neglecting the farmers’ welfare,” Paswan said.

In this context Paswan said the central government is “going out of the way in more ways than one” to help the farmers by giving enhanced Minimum Support Price (MSP).

The distress of sugarcane farmers has been a matter of concern for the government. These farmers do not get their due from the sugar mills even though the price of sugar has gone up manifold in the last few months.

Referring to the plight of sugarcane farmers and the arrears due to them, Paswan said: “The central government’s role was to fix the Fair Remunerative Price (FRP). Essentially the matter is between the state governments and mill owners. But appreciating the gravity of the situation farmers are in, we intervened and nearly 87 per cent of the dues amounting to Rs 6,225 crore has been released.”

Price rise has been a major issue which is used by the political opponents to target the Modi government. The minister, however, stressed that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government is working to keep a check on the price rise of essential commodities. Short- and long-term strategies are being planned in this regard, Paswan said.

He said a core group of ministers — comprising Arun Jaitley (Finance), Nirmala Sitharaman (Commerce), Radha Mohan Singh (Agriculture) and he himself — is regularly monitoring the situation and they have been largely successful in controlling prices.

Regarding the Public Distribution System, Paswan said the problem of pilferage is being looked into.

“For the first time since Independence the issue of leakage in Public Distribution System is being addressed. More steps have been planned,” the minister said, adding that steps like linking the Aadhaar cards to the ration card beneficiaries has resulted in saving of a whopping Rs 10,000 crore.

“We tracked about 16.2 million bogus ration cards. Decisions like direct benefit transfer to the people in need has helped overall improvement in the system. There are also 117,000 points of sales introduced with biometric facilities wherein beneficiaries get either foodgrains or cash according to their entitlement. These are some of the revolutionary steps undertaken by the NDA government,” Paswan said.

India

Leaking national secret to journalist is a criminal act: Rahul Gandhi

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New Delhi, Jan 19 : Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said that leaking sensitive information related to the national secret of a planned attack to a journalist is a “criminal act” and persons behind this should be put in prison.

To a question about the alleged chats discussing the Balakot air strike after the February 14, 2019 Pulwama terror strike on CRPF convoy, Rahul Gandhi said, “Leaking of any sensitive information is a criminal act. This applies to the person who sends it and the person who receives it.”

He said that such a sensitive issue was a subject of national secret regarding a planned air strike which is only either with the Prime Minister, Union Home Minister, Union Defence Minister, Indian Air Force Chief and the National Security Advisor.

“I want to know who among the Prime Minister, Home Minister, Defence Minister or NSA leaked secret information to the journalist. This is a criminal act. If the journalist had such information on his WhatsApp, I assume the Pakistanis too had it,” he said.

He also said that by leaking such information to a journalist risked the IAF fighter jets and pilots and this was not an act of “patriotism”.

He also said for leaking such a classified information, the process of putting the people in prison should start.

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Image of India built by Congress being destroyed by PM Modi: Rahul Gandhi

He also accused the government of “destroying” Indian agriculture by enacting the three farm laws.

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New Delhi, Jan 20: Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday hit out at the Centre over the farmers’ agitation, saying that the “image” of India built by the Congress is being “destroyed” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Commenting on the farmers’ protests at several borders of the national capital for the last 54 days over the three farm laws, he said that “a tragedy is unfolding” and the only solution to end the deadlock is to repeal the three farm laws.

Addressing a press conference here at the party headquarters, Rahul Gandhi said, “India used to be a pre-eminent economy in the world. Now we are a laughing stock. We are unable to provide jobs to the youth. Farmers are protesting outside in the cold. I don’t know why Modiji thinks that it is something to be proud of.”

“This is something to be ashamed of. The whole world is looking and asking why lakhs of farmers are sitting outside Delhi. So, Modi is destroying the image of India that Congress and Mahatma Gandhi built slowly and steadily,” he said.

“That is the reality,” he said, adding that the only solution to this is to repeal the three farm laws.

Slamming the government, the Congress leader said that the government believes it can tire out the farmers.

“But farmers cannot be tired or fooled. They are much smarter than the Prime Minister. Only solution to end the protests is to repeal the three farm laws,” he said.

He also accused the government of “destroying” Indian agriculture by enacting the three farm laws.

Rahul Gandhi also launched a booklet on the three farm laws titled ‘Kheti ka Khoon’.

He further said that there is a tragedy unfolding today in the country, and the government wants to ignore the issue and mislead the country. “I am not going to speak about farmers alone as it is only part of the tragedy. It’s also important for youngsters. This is not about the present but about your future,” he said.

“The rice and wheat that you (middle class) buy comes at the rate you purchase because of APMC and the agricultural system. This is not just an assault on farmers but on the middle class and on every single youngster in the country, who is not able to get a job,” he said.

He said, “What we have seen in industry after industry, when it comes to the airports, telecom, power, retail, across the board, what we are watching is the development of massive monopolies.”

He alleged that “three-four-five people are owning this country, and they are owning it as a small group of people who are close to the Prime Minister and have media support.”

“And now we have seen that the last bastion of agriculture that was not touched by industries is also going away,” he said.

He said that now three or four people will own the whole system and the farmers will not get their prices and the middle class will be hurt by the prices.

The Congress leader said that the farmers of Punjab and Haryana are fighting on behalf of 65 crore farmers of the country.

“They are the patriots of the country, who are protecting livelihood of 65 crore people. I support them, they are fighting for us,” Rahul Gandhi said.

To a question about China’s intrusion, Rahul Gandhi said, “China is noticing the weakness of India. China has a strategic vision as it wants to shape the entire world. China has tested India twice. If India won’t create a strategy against China, it will take benefit of that and then no one would be able to stop the damage.”

He said that the job of safeguarding the country is not being done properly.

“China is testing India and it wants to dominate. I am raising red flags, you can’t manage China with event management,” he said.

He added that whoever speaks against the government is described as an anti-national or criminal.

“We are saying this because we are seeing the problems. If we speak about China we are enemies. When we are giving warning signals, we are enemies. Even if the farmers’ protest is sorted out, then its result will come from somewhere else like from youth or someone else.

“Their approach is wrong, they don’t want to learn and accept. They only want to speak, it is the training by the RSS, they are top grade in this,” he added.

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Gujarat govt renames ‘dragon fruit’ as kamalam

It should be noted that the lotus is the symbol of the BJP and the state BJP headquarters in Gandhinagar is also named ‘Shri Kamalam’.

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Gandhinagar Jan 20: Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, while interacting with the media on Tuesday, said that the government has applied for a patent to change the nomenclature of dragon fruit to ‘Kamalam’.

According to the CM, the word dragon for the fruit sounded inappropriate and so the Gujarat government had decided for the fruit to be called as Kamalam.

While interacting with the media on Tuesday during the launch of the Chief Minister Horticulture Development Mission, Rupani said, “We have applied for the patent of the Dragon fruit to be called as Kamalam. But as of now, we the Gujarat government have decided to call the fruit as Kamalam.”

“Even though the fruit is known as dragon fruit, it doesn’t sound appropriate. The word Kamalam is a Sanskrit word and the fruit does have the shape of the lotus, so we have decided to call it Kamalam, and there’s nothing political about it,” Rupani added.

According to the CM, the fruit has long since been grown as a form of cactus in the country. “Nobody has to be alarmed by the word Kamalam,” Rupani added.

It should be noted that the lotus is the symbol of the BJP and the state BJP headquarters in Gandhinagar is also named ‘Shri Kamalam’.

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