Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the second tranch of schemes under "Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan" on Thursday with this particular batch aimed at easing the impact of lockdown on migrant workers, vendors and farmers. Even as the announcements were made, Trinamool leader Derek O' Brien was ready with a quick salvo.
Responding to the portion about migrant workers not requiring ration cards to avail coronavirus relief benefits and schemes outside home states, O'Brien said that the Mamata Banerjee government had implemented that 45 days ago.
Among the schemes announced today to help migrant workers stuck in other states, enroute or back in their homes states, Sitharaman said that ration cards would not be necessary for migrants to receive coronavirus relief material such as food grains from state governments.
"Free food grain supply for migrants for the next two months. For non-card holders (national food security act or state-level cards) will receive 5 kg of wheat or rice and 1 kg chana per family. We are engaging with state governments to approach and identify the migrants. Close to 8 crore migrants will benefit from this and Centre will bear the cost. Rs 3,500 crore will be spent on this intervention," Sitharaman said.
She also added that a technology driven system will enable migrants to access public distribution system (PDS) from any fair price shop in India by March 2021.
"Migrant families are not able to access food in other states. This scheme will be enable migrant beneficiary to access PDS from any fair price shop in the country," she said, adding that all state PDS shops will be automated by March 2021.
The announcement, however, provoked the immediate response of the TMC national spokesperson who pointed out that the FM was 45 days later than West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee in announcing the same.
"45 days ago, Mamata Banerjee announced that even those without ration cards would be given ration. Today is May 14. Ok FM," the O'Brien tweeted, sharing a news report by The Hindu from March 31.
Banerjee met with senior district officials in March and told them to ensure PDS to all in need, irrespective of ration cards.
“In case someone does not have a ration card, the DMs will ensure that the person gets food,” the report quoted her as saying.
The tweet reminded many of a popular saying in West Bengal.
What Bengal thinks today rest thinks 45 days later— Soumen Dey (@soumendey52) May 14, 2020