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Mamata Banerjee Launches Subsidized Meal Plan: Will TMC Help in West Bengal Elections? | India News


NEW DELHI: Just a few months before the assembly elections, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee launched an ambitious subsidized meal plan for the poor on Monday. What the supreme Trinamool Congress (TMC) is experiencing has already been proven by CMs from at least 10 other states and not all of them have been successful in winning the next state elections thereafter.
The subsidized meal plan, launched by Mamata, has been dubbed ‘Country‘, which means mother. This is in addition to a popular catchphrase: Ma, Mati, Manush (Mother, Country, People), coined by her.
Under the Maa scheme, the government would provide a meal at a nominal cost of Rs 5 mainly to poor people who would get a source of rice, dal, vegetables, and egg curry.
1. Tamil nadu
The late J Jayalalithaa was the first CM to launch such a plan in February 2013 in Tamil Nadu. She had called the dining outlets ‘Amma’. Jayalalithaa was popularly and affectionately called ‘Amma’. Three years later, he returned to power in the 2016 assembly elections.
Taking a step forward, the current Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami launched Amma mobile canteens in November last year to serve the poor, especially construction workers.
Both Palaniswami and Mamata can aim to do a Jayalalithaa. Both Tamil Nadu and West Bengal are likely to face elections in the coming months.
2. Telangana
In March 2014, Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) opened the ‘Annapurna’ dining room. Telangana CM and TRS chief K Chandrasekhar Rao have continued it. He returned to office in the 2018 assembly elections.
These canteens played a crucial role during the Covid-19 lockdown. The government provided free meals to more than 65 lakh people during the shutdown.
3. Odisha
The Naveen Patnaik government in Odisha was the next to launch the low-cost meals. The ‘Aahar’ scheme started on April 1, 2015. It is operating in some 160 centers in 114 urban areas. Patnaik also won the upcoming assembly elections in 2019. He serves as CM of Odisha for the fifth consecutive term since 2000.
4. Andhra Pradesh
Thereafter, the then CM Chandrababu Naidu of Andhra Pradesh opened the first ‘Anna’ canteen in March 2016, named after the founder and president of TDP, NT Rama Rao. However, initially only four dining rooms were opened in two years.
With the 2019 assembly elections only a few months away, the Naidu government decided to open 203 ‘Anna’ across the state. In July 2018, he opened the first of them in Vijayawada. But he did not help Naidu and lost the May 2019 assembly elections. His successor, YS Jaganmohan Reddy, closed the plan.
5. Rajasthan
The next state to launch the subsidized meal scheme was Rajasthan. In December 2016, then-Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje started the ‘Annapurna Rasoi’ for the poor and needy: breakfast for 5 rupees and lunch or dinner for 8 rupees.
However, he lost the 2018 assembly elections. Ashok Gehlot’s congressional government closed the ‘Annapurna Rasoi’. On August 20, 2020, the 76th anniversary of the birth of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, the ‘Indira Rasoi scheme’ started in Rajasthan after the name of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
6. Delhi
Arvind Kejriwal’s government of Delhi was next. It set aside 10 million rupees in its 2016 budget for Aam Aadmi canteens. The pilot project began in January 2017 to provide nutritious and hygienic food at low prices to the poor and downtrodden, such as rickshaw pullers, day laborers and construction workers.
7. Uttar Pradesh
In 2017, the then Samajwadi Party government of Akhilesh Yadav promised Samajwadi Kitchen for the poor in Uttar Pradesh if his party returned to power. However, he lost the 2017 state polls.
His successor, Yogi Adityanath from the BJP, started the Annapurna Bhojnalaya Yojana for the poor shortly after taking office in 2017. According to the plan, breakfast and lunch are offered at Rs 3 and Rs 5 respectively.
8. Madhya Pradesh
Another BJP government of Shivraj Singh Chouhan in Madhya Pradesh launched a subsidized meal plan in April 2017. It was called ‘Deendayal Rasoi Yojana’ in honor of its ideologue Deendayal Upadhyay. But the BJP lost the 2018 assembly elections.
The plan was suspended by the congressional government of Kamal Nath. But the congressional government fell after the party’s leader, Jyotiraditya Scindia, rebelled and several MLA who owed him allegiance resigned. Chouhan returned to office in March 2020 and reintroduced the scheme in September 2020.
9. Karnataka
Then came Karnataka. The then congressional government of Siddaramaiah followed the example of neighboring Tamil Nadu and launched the Indira dining rooms in Bengaluru on August 15, 2018, just a few months before the 2018 assembly elections. The initiative did not help it, as the BJP emerged as the largest party in a hung assembly.
BS Yediyurappa from BJP was sworn in as CM, but failed to demonstrate the majority on the floor of the house. JD (S) leader HD Kumaraswamy was sworn in as his successor with the support of Congress.
But the JD (S) -Congress coalition government also fell when several of its MLA resigned. Yediyurappa was sworn in again as CM. However, as an exception, Indira did not interrupt the dining rooms.
In fact, on March 23, 2020 Yediyurappa announced free food for the poor in these Indira dining rooms. The state government, however, stopped providing free food a month later, following reports of irregularities. However, the subsidized meal plan continues.
10. Maharashtra
Before the Mamata government in West Bengal, the latest state to implement subsidized meals was the Maharashtra government led by Shiv Sena, which launched the ‘Shiv Bhojan’ scheme last year on Republic Day. Shiv Sena, led by Uddhav Thackeray, kept one of his promises in polls by launching the plan.
11. West Bengal
Now West Bengal, led by Mamata Banerjee, has become perhaps the eleventh state to launch the subsidized meals program. The initiative comes only a few months before the elections to the assembly in the state. Whether or not the people of his state acknowledge the plan, Mamata appears to have done everything possible to win over voters.

Times of India