Karnataka Food and Civil Supplies Minister Umesh Katti came under fire from his own cabinet colleagues after asking people to surrender their Below Poverty Line (BPL) ration cards before March 31 if they own either a two-wheeler, TV, fridge or over five acres of land or face legal action.
During his interaction with media persons on Sunday in Belagavi the minister had stated that those who possess BPL ration cards but own five acre farm land, fridge, TV and two-wheeler must surrender their cards before March 31.
However, after coming under fire from his own party men, Katti retracted his statement on Monday stating that these ‘norms were not set by him’ but they were existing even prior to he took over the charge of the ministry.
His own cabinet colleagues including Education Minister S. Suresh Kumar and Co-operation Minister S.T. Somashekar asserted that Katti’s statement on BPL ration card was uncalled for. “Owning fridge, TV and two-wheeler cannot be yardstick to denounce BPL rations cards. This is inhuman, even the poorest man owns all of these things,” Kumar told reporters.
While Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah quipped that Katti is free to make such inhuman laws when he forms his own state. “It was during my time, the poor got the most quantity of food grains. But after the BJP came to power in the state, they have not only reduced the quantity of grains but now are thinking of newer ways to keep poor people even poorer,” he said.
Congress MLA and former Food and Civil Supplies Minister U.T. Khader said the issue had come up before him when he was the Food and Civil Supplies Minister but decided not to relax the norms as many poor people would be affected.
He said that when there are offers like interest free loans to purchase all these items, it was obvious that people would buy it.
“The BJP is inherently ‘anti-poor’,” he charged and asked them to focus on identifying more beneficiaries instead of taking away their right to eat.
Meanwhile Congress party workers also staged protests in front of various ration shops in Bengaluru, Dharwad, Mysuru and Tumakuru districts.