The Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan, a leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), has dismissed the Union government’s directive to set up selfie points featuring cutouts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at major ration shops participating in the centrally sponsored PM Garib Kalyan Yojana.
Vijayan stated in the state assembly on Monday (February 12) that this move appears to be part of the campaign for the Lok Sabha polls, and Kerala will communicate to the Centre that it is not appropriate and challenging to implement in the state. He also mentioned the possibility of bringing this matter to the attention of the Election Commission for further examination.
A senior official from Kerala’s food ministry cited two reasons for the state’s objection to the branding directive:
- The PM Garib Kalyan Yojana, initiated during the pandemic and later extended, is slated to conclude by December 31 this year, leaving states responsible for the free-grain scheme entirely from the following year.
- Apart from distributing the Yojana’s 5kg free food grains to the eligible below-poverty-line (BPL) individuals, constituting 43% of Kerala’s population, ration shops also dispense state government-provided subsidized food grains to the remaining 57%.
‘Selfie points’ have been a prominent aspect of the Union government’s campaign leading up to the Lok Sabha elections, displayed in public spaces, railway stations, educational institutions, etc., funded by taxpayers.
This isn’t the first instance of a state government objecting to the Modi government’s insistence on associating his image with welfare schemes. West Bengal has faced fund withholding for refusing to include the prime minister’s photographs on bags used for distributing ration.