ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Grains of Contention


The Anna Bhagya scheme, an initiative of the Karnataka government, is aimed at providing 10 kilograms (kg) of grain per month to the below-poverty-line families. However, the scheme hit a roadblock when the Food Corporation of India (FCI) halted the sale of rice to several states governments under its Open Market Sale Scheme (Domestic). While the Congress-led Karnataka government pointed fingers at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led union government, accusing it of maliciously blocking rice supplies even after the FCI had issued a commitment letter, the BJP countered it by saying that it is already providing 5 kg rice to these families under the National Food Security Act, 2013 and cited rising prices for excluding states from open FCI sales. This development is reminiscent of the S R Bommai v Union of India case, which dealt with the misuse of Article 356 and the imposition of President’s rule in Karnataka. The current rice dispute, while not involving Article 356, is a reflection of the tension that can arise in a federal structure when the union and state governments have divergent interests.

In the case of the Anna Bhagya scheme, cooperative federalism necessitates that both the union and state governments work in collaboration to provide foodgrains to the beneficiaries of the scheme in Karnataka. However, the opposite seems to have happened. Accusations have been hurled, with each side blaming the other, and the people, for whom the scheme was intended, have been caught in the crossfire. It was reported that if the state government resorted to the procurement of rice from the open market, then it would be much costlier than the FCI’s price, which is pegged at `36.6 per kg. Even at FCI rates, the scheme would cost the state’s exchequer around `10,000 crore annually. This financial burden, coupled with the resentment between the union and state governments, could have serious repercussions for the development of Karnataka. The potential for increased costs not only jeopardises the availability of essential foodgrains but could also hinder the allocation of resources to other developmental projects and initiatives by the state government.

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Updated On : 22nd Aug, 2023
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