Telangana Health Minister T Harish Rao today said Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in asking for Narendra Modi’s photo to be put up at ration shops, “took the PM’s level down”.
“She was talking as if the central government is giving free rice to state. Telangana is among five or six states that take care of our country financially. So should our Chief Minister’s photo here and in other states?” he said, reacting to Ms Sitharaman’s angry interaction with a District Collector of Kamareddy at Birkur, videos of which have gone viral.
The latest Centre-state exchange isn’t as much about economics as it is about the political context. The state’s ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti has been working towards Opposition unity against the BJP at the Centre.
State minister KT Rama Rao, son of Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (‘KCR’), has said he was “appalled” by her “unruly conduct”.
As to her demand, the TRS social media head tweeted a cheeky video — some LPG cylinders with the price and Prime Minister Modi’s photo pasted on — in a not-so-indirect reference to rising prices.
— krishanKTRS (@krishanKTRS) September 3, 2022
In the viral video from Friday, Ms Sitharaman is rather curt with Collector Jitesh Patil when he is unable to immediately say what the Centre and state’s shares are in rice at fair-price shops. She says, of the Rs 35-a-kg cost, the Centre bears Rs 30, state gives Rs 4, while Re 1 is collected from the beneficiaries.
She is also visibly angry at PM Modi’s photos not being put up at the shops in Telangana. “Our people will come and put up the PM’s banner here,” the Union Minister tells the Collector in the video, “You will ensure it’s not removed.”
Union finance minister @nsitharaman asks @Collector_KMR how much Centre & state are contributing towards subsidised rice for poor at FPS ration shop; when he apparently gave ‘wrong’ answer, she told #Telangana#IAS officer to revert with right answer in half hour @email@example.com/qPZaNz40h7
— Uma Sudhir (@umasudhir) September 2, 2022
On finances, minister Harish Rao countered her assertions. “The Centre gives hardly 50-55 per cent contribution overall. For the remaining 45 per cent, the state gives 10 kg rice free, spending Rs 3,610 crore every month,” he said at a press conference at Tupran in Medak district.