Paswan slams ally Nitish over food beneficiary list, JD(U) says he is doing politics – ThePrint

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Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan addressed a press conference on Delhi's water quality
File image of Union Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan | Photo: ANI

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New Delhi: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s government is facing criticism not just from the opposition RJD, but also from within the ruling alliance.

Union Minister of Food and Consumer Affairs Ram Vilas Paswan last week said the Bihar government hasn’t sent the updated list containing 14 lakh beneficiaries of the National Food Security Act (NFSA), thereby depriving them of food grains.

“We have received a letter (last week) from the Bihar government saying a list has been sent to NIC (National Informatics Centre). We have communicated to the state food minister (Madan Sahni) to send the updated list of 14 lakh people (to his ministry), but we haven’t received the list yet,” Paswan told ThePrint.

Paswan is the former president of Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), an ally of Nitish’s JD(U). His son, Chirag, now heads the LJP. 

“The central government is providing food grains to 81 crore people (across the country). Why wouldn’t the Centre not provide ration to Bihar? But under the food security Act, all needy people will have to register,” he added.

Under the NFSA, 8.71 crore people from Bihar are eligible to get food grains, but only 8.57 crore currently get ration, said Paswan.

“This is because, only names of these 8.57 crore people are registered on the NIC. In the last five years, Bihar has not updated the list under the food Act on NIC,” he added.

According to Paswan, Bihar has last week demanded 75,000 metric tonnes of ration for 1 crore 50 lakh more people (30 lakh households). But the Centre told the state government it was not possible under the provisions of NFSA, he said.

Under the Act, the number of beneficiaries can be increased only after the next Census (2021), Paswan told ThePrint.

Also read: ‘Nitish dumped Bihari workers’ — allies, opposition slam Bihar CM over coronavirus response

‘Paswan doing politics’ 

Bihar food minister Madan Sahni, however, said the state government has already updated the list on the NIC, which has records of the NFSA beneficiaries, besides other important data.

“Ram Vilas Paswan is not serious about providing ration to the poor, he is only doing politics. We have sent the list of ration card holders to the NIC. Why does he need a separate list of card holders? If his ministry needs the list of ration card holders, he should ask the NIC, which is under the central government. But his agenda is to do politics,” Sahni told ThePrint.

On Bihar government’s appeal for food grains for over one crore more people, Sahni said: “Ram Vilas is saying wait until 2021 Census to get grains but people are suffering from hunger now.”

“We have said if the Centre wants to verify 30 lakh families, it can verify, but this is not the time of doubt and politics. The Centre should immediately release food grains,”  he added.

Paswan’s ‘pressure tactics’ before polls 

A JD(U) MP, who didn’t want to be named, told ThePrint these are just “pressure tactics” by Paswan, who wants to contest on more seats in the assembly elections, due this year.

“The LJP knows that they can’t get 40 seats in this election. (So) They are flexing muscles to get more seats. These are pressure tactics, which every political party understands. It is premature to say now how many seats the LJP will get to fight on, but obviously they will have to satisfy with lesser seats,” the MP said.

In the 2015 state elections, the LJP had contested on 40 seats out of the total 224 assembly seats, while its ally, the BJP, on 160 seats. The remaining seats were fought by other alliance partners — Jitan Ram Manjhi’s HAM and Upendra Kushwaha’s RLSP.

The LJP, however, managed to win only two seats. Nitish had partnered with Lalu Prasad Yadav in the last election.

Chirag’s continuous attack on Nitish 

Paswan’s son, Chirag, also attacked Nitish for not providing the list of new beneficiaries of ration cards to the Centre.

“Despite regular efforts by the central government, the state government hasn’t sent the list,” Paswan said. “I would appeal to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to send the list as soon as possible to provide them the benefits.”

He had also criticised Nitish over his handling of the migrant workers’ crisis.

LJP sources told ThePrint Chirag Monday called Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, requesting him to operate more trains to bring back migrant workers.

Goyal said railways will operate more trains if the state government sends a request, sources added.

Also read: Bihar turns clock back for Covid-19 fight, seeks to replicate 1998 polio eradication drive

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