People / Political

Jan Aahar Yojana: Political Ploy or Populist Scheme?

Vishnu Varma

NEW DELHI, March 5th: The Jan Ahaar Yojana, a scheme of the Delhi government to provide wholesome and nutritious food for Rs. 15, continues to suffer glitches and is being used by political parties to score brownie points ahead of the state assembly elections in November.

The scheme was an ambitious food program launched by Chief Minister Sheila Dixit in June, 2010 where she promised that poor people and those belonging to the lower class of society would not be forced to eat from unhygienic and insanitary food outlets in the city. The Jan Ahaar stalls were to be set up in the form of mobile catering vans at major intersections in the city.

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The idea was envisaged in such a way that NGOs and other social welfare organizations would be provided licenses by the state government to run these stalls.

“I have been working in this stall for the past 6 months and we have been selling around 250 plates a day,” said Vivek Shukla who works in one such Jan Aahar stall near Green Park Metro. “We normally get customers like auto and rickshaw drivers who can relish the food”.

But opposition parties like the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have accused the state government of introducing populist policies specially to distract the common people from issues of inflation and price hike.

“If the government was serious about the dietary concerns of its citizens, then it should have reduced the price of food grains so that people can cook food in their own homes,” said Sanjay Kaul, spokesperson of the BJP. He also added that the entire scheme is just another public relation exercise in which it has failed on all parameters.

The opposition’s assault adds injury to the woes of the state government as the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) had found out last year that there were more than 100 unlicensed Jan Aahar stalls operating in the city without the MCD’s permission.

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Arvind Kejriwal, founder of the Aam Aadmi Party also spoke against the ruling government. “The problem is that most of the schemes which are launched by the government involve massive amounts of corruption and unless corruption is removed, no scheme can be successful,” said Kejriwal at a Jan Aandolan in Malviya Nagar.

With the assembly elections looming in the future, political blame game takes centre-stage even as populist schemes like the Jan Aahar program continue to be sidelined.

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