Taking a leaf out of former Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa’s book, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje on Thursday launched a subsidised meal scheme in the state. The tagline for the scheme, named Annapurna Rasoi Yojana, is: “Sabke liye bhojan, sabke liye sammaan (Food for all, respect for all)”.
A statement released by the government after the launch said: “The CM launched the scheme by feeding a morsel to a Dalit and a Gurjar woman at the (scheme’s) launch on Jaipur Municipal Corporation campus. The CM relished a hearty meal of bajre ki roti, lassun ki chutney and besan gate ki sabzi with Munni alias Kiran and Kailashi Gurjar in the presence of (UDH minister) Shrichand Kriplani, (BJP state president and) MLA Ashok Parnami, and Mayor Ashok Lahoti.” With breakfast for Rs 5 and lunch and dinner for Rs 8 each, the scheme aims to benefit “labourers, rickshaw pullers, auto-rickshaw drivers, students, working women, senior citizens, and others”.
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The meals will be provided through special vans, numbering 80 as of now. The scheme, which eventually aims to cover the entire state, has been launched at divisional headquarters in 12 districts. Over the next fortnight, Jaipur will have 25 vans, Jhalawar will have six while Jodhpur, Udaipur, Ajmer, Kota, Bikaner and Bharatpur will have five vans each. Dungarpur and Banswara will have four vans each and Pratapgarh, Baran will have three vans each.
As per the Local Self Government department of Rajasthan, which is the nodal agency for the scheme, the meals will be cooked and served by staff trained in hospitality. Apart from seating arrangement around the van, the staff will have a special uniform, along with gloves, caps and aprons. The scheme is being implemented through Jeevan Sambal Trust. A government official said that the “cost of a meal will come to Rs 23.70 for a meal and Rs 21.70 for breakfast and of this, Rs 8 and Rs 5 will be borne by the customer, respectively, while the rest will be subsidised”.
The launch of the scheme comes at a time when the government is under pressure to appease Gujjars, whose reservation under Special Backward Classes Act was turned down by the High Court recently, and who have been threatening protests. “We have told the government to maintain the status quo. We have given them a seven-day ultimatum, nahi toh hum wahi karenge jo karte aayen hain (else we will have to do what we have done in the past),” Kirori Singh Bainsla, who led a Gujjar delegation for talks with the government, told mediapersons at the secretariat Thursday evening.
“There will be no talks after 22nd,” said Himmat Singh, spokesperson for Gujjar Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti.
The government has already filed an Special Leave Petition which is likely to be taken up on December 22.