BENGALURU: The Congress government in Karnataka is seeking to woo the homeless and migrants who throng the state capital Bengaluru with subsidised meals every night and the state’s food and civil supplies department is tying up with international society Iskcon, whose Akshaya Patra division already provides mid-day meals to school children in the city to get the scheme off the ground.
The model has been in place in Rajasthan for more than six years, but the inspiration is the Amma canteen in Tamil Nadu which helped Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa win the recent elections for a second term. Karnataka is the last big state in the country where the Congress rules and the party is keen to retain power in the 2018 assembly poll.
The Karnataka model, however, is different from the Amma canteen, as only a pre-fixed night meal will be provided at a nominal cost of Rs 5 through mobile vans set up in night shelters, bus stands, hospitals and railway stations. The food will be served – hot and cooked – only for a fixed span of an hour, each night.
“There are thousands of homeless and migrants in Bengaluru. We estimate that we will have to feed about 10,000 to 20,000 people a day,” said Congress state unit working president Dinesh Gundu Rao, who has just stepped down as the state’s food and civil supplies minister. “These are people without ration cards or documents, though we will not be asking for any detail from anyone to feed them. It is a mandate of the food department to ensure hunger-free Karnataka and this is a step towards that.”
Rao, who has successfully implemented the Congress’ Anna Bhagya scheme to provide rice at Rs 1/kg across the state, felt this project would generate a lot of goodwill for the party and the government. The Congress has seized control of Bengaluru’s civic body Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) along with the JD(S), but the party’s vote share in Bengaluru city is about 2% less than that of the BJP.