After PM's 'Free Ration' Move, Mamata Banerjee Takes It Up A Notch

Mamata Banerjee also took on the government over its yesterday's ban of 59 apps with Chinese links.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said "Bengal will give free ration till June 2021."

Kolkata:

Assembly polls due in Bengal next year, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today one-upped Prime Minister Narendra Modi's promise to provide free grain to people till Chhath Puja – usually held in November. In Bengal, people will receive free ration till June next year, the Chief Minister said.  She had earlier announced free rations till September but extended it moments after she learnt about the prime minister's November scheme

Ms Banerjee also took on the Centre over its reaction towards China following the June 15 clash in Ladakh in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed in action. Her nephew and party MP Abhishek Banerjee had, earlier in the day, mocked the prime minister over his "befitting reply" to China.

Bengal goes to polls next year and, as per schedule, should swear in a new government by mid-May.  The BJP has emerged as the chief challenger of Ms Banerjee's Trinamool Congress that has been ruling the state for a decade. In general elections last year, the BJP increased its tally in the Lok Sabha to 18 seats out of 42, up from just two seats earlier.

"Bengal will give free ration till June 2021," Ms Banerjee said this evening, minutes after PM Modi's address to the nation. She did not watch the PM's speech as she was at a cabinet meeting. Her response came after informed her that Mr Modi had said, free rations till November.

"The quality of ration is better than that of the Centre," she also claimed, adding, "Only 60 per cent people in Bengal get central rations"

Earlier today, PM Modi said a key government scheme to distribute free foodgrain to 80 crore of India's poorest – started with the countrywide lockdown against coronavirus in March – will be extended till November-end to provide relief during the festival season.

"Keeping in mind all the festivals that are coming up in the next few months, this scheme to provide 80 crore people with 5 kg free ration and 1 kg dal (pulses) per month will now be extended till Diwali and Chhath Puja, or till the end of November," PM Modi said, addressing the nation for the sixth time after the coronavirus outbreak.

Ms Banerjee also took on the government over its yesterday's bans to 59 apps with Chinese links.

"Only banning some apps will not give result. We want to give China a befitting reply. The government has to decide on that," she said, dismissing the Prime Minister's claim that China has already been given a "befitting response".

The government's move, which it said was made in view of security risk, came amid a strong economic backlash against China following the events in Ladakh.

The move came a day after PM Modi said India has given a "befitting response" to China. He also spoke of the countrywide call for boycott of Chinese goods, juxtaposing it against the government's "Atma Nirbhar Bharat" campaign.