Anna Canteens, which provide meals at Rs 5 to the poor and the middle class, were shut down across Andhra Pradesh from Thursday. Daily wage labourers, beggars, other poor folks who thronged the canteens every day found the canteens locked.
With the outsourcing agency stopping supplying of food following the state government’s orders, all 204 canteens downed their shutters.
YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) government, however, has assured that this shutdown is temporary and that it would re-launch the scheme with certain modifications.
Working since July-August last year, the canteens were proving a boon to the poor as they were getting breakfast, lunch and dinner at Rs 5 each.
Alleging corruption in the scheme launched by the previous Telugu Desam Party (TDP) government, the new dispensation has decided to streamline the canteens.
Akshaya Patra, which cooks and supply food for the canteens, supplied the last meal on Wednesday night.
As the government has not announced alternate arrangements, the canteens were shut.
TDP General Secretary Nara Lokesh took to Twitter to slam the Jagan Mohan Reddy government for shutting down the canteens.
Lokesh, who is the son of TDP chief and former Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, tweeted that the government shut down the canteens due to political vendetta.
“Mr Chief Minister hunger doesn’t know politics. Should the poor go hungry for your political vendetta,” he asked.
Meanwhile, there is still no clarity as to how long it will take for the authorities to re-open the canteens with new name and colour.
YSRCP leaders alleged that TDP used the scheme launched on the eve of elections to further its political interests by painting the canteens yellow (colour of TDP’s flag).
As the canteens were named after TDP founder and former Chief Minister N.T.Rama Rao, YSRCP government plans to rename them. NTR, as the late leader was popularly known, was also affectionately called Anna’ (elder brother).
The canteens may now be named ‘Rajanna’ as Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy’s father and late Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy was fondly called.
Municipal Administration Minister Botsa Satyanarayana has already allayed apprehensions of winding up the scheme.