The TDP government’s Anna NTR canteen in Andhra Pradesh, launched last year on the lines of the Amma canteens of Tamil Nadu, has a rival—Rajanna canteen, started by a YSR Congress party MLA on Sunday that provides sumptuous lunch for the poor at just Rs 4 a plate.
Alla Ramakrishna Reddy, representing Mangalagiri constituency in Guntur district, launched Rajanna Canteen in memory of the late Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y S Rajasekhar Reddy, at Ambedkar statue in Mangalagiri town, which is hardly 15 km away from Amaravati, the new capital in the making, where chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu launched the NTR Anna canteen on June 25 last year.
“I have launched Rajanna canteen today because on this day in 2004 the late YSR took over as the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh. He was the poor man’s CM, and so, I launched this scheme in his name,” Reddy told HT.
Rajanna Canteen, a mobile van, bedecked with pictures and slogans of YSR, procures food from the kitchen at Tadepalli, run by the MLA and brings it to the Gautama Buddha Centre of Mangalagiri town and supplies it to the poor.
The menu comprises sambar rice and curd rice with egg four days a week, and a banana for the rest three days. Besides, the meal also has crunchy papads and chips.
The entire expenditure for the subsidised meal is being borne by the MLA.
“Basically, I am an agriculturist, growing paddy and red gram. That takes care of the meal portion. Besides, I buy eggs and fruits from nearby villages. The overall expenditure for each meal is around Rs 30, but I have decided to supply it for just Rs 4 a plate. I am not a rich man, but I have decided to do my bit for the poor,” Reddy said.
What inspired the MLA was not the NTR Anna Canteen, but a subsidised meal scheme being implemented by Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation which supplies meals for Rs 5.
The GHMC meal, which comprises rice, sambar, pickle and curd, caters to the needs of 15,000 people daily. The corporation bears a subsidy of Rs 15 on each meal.
“I haven’t taken anybody’s financial support to run Rajanna canteen. That is why I have limited this scheme only to Mangalagiri town,” Reddy said.
“At present, I can feed 500 poor people a day. But, if any voluntary agency comes forward to support my endeavour, I will consider expanding it,” he said.
Asked whether his scheme was a populist one to counter the TDP government’s NTR Anna canteens, the MLA said he took the initiative as the government canteens did not take off.
“Last year, the Naidu government started just one canteen near Secretariat at Velagapudi as a token measure. Though he said the scheme would be expanded to all over the state, he failed to fulfil the promise,” the MLA said.