Cong accuses CM of 'misleading' people on rice allocation issue

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Kochi, Aug 2 (UNI) Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) President Ramesh Chennithala today accused Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan of ''misleading'' the people on the issue of reduction in allocation of rice for the state from the central pool.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr Chennithala said Kerala had joined the 'Decentralised Procurement Scheme' during the previous UDF Government, under which the state procured rice locally for the Public Distribution System with Central subsidy.

Despite reminders from the Centre, the state had failed to procure sufficient quantities of rice and was now blaming the Centre, he alleged.

Disputing the claims of Mr Achuthanandan and Food and Civil Supplies Minister C Divakaran that Kerala had informed the Centre that it was discontinuing the direct procurement scheme, Mr Chennithala questioned if so, why has Kerala contributed 85,000 tonnes of rice to the central pool this year.

Stating that the Congress was ready to cooperate with the state government's efforts to get more rice from the central pool ahead of the Onam festival next month, Mr Chennithala said it would accompany the all-party delegation being led by Mr Achuthanandan to meet central leaders in Delhi.

Mr Chennithala said he had already written to Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar to allocate more rice to Kerala in view of Onam, a major festival in Kerala.

He also accused the LDF Government of ''exploiting'' the people of the state by selling rice, procured at about Rs nine per kg, at Rs 16 per kg in the state-run 'Maveli' stores.

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