As it happened: How Nirmala Sitharaman's fury at 'No Modi photo' in a ration shop turned against BJP?

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman lost her cool when she find that there was no portrait of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a ration shop in Telangana in the midst of her tour to the state. However, her fury has apparently turned against the BJP as Modi's photos were later pasted on the LPG cylinders with their surging price, to denote the growing inflation under the Centre's BJP regime. 

On Friday, Nirmala Sitharaman expressed her anger at Kamareddy District Collector Jitesh V Patil after she find that there was no portrait of Prime Minister Modi at a ration shop in Birkur Mandal headquarters village. The visuals showed that the Union Minister was upset and tension was visible on her face as she was surrounded by the authorities and the civilians. 

Noting that the Centre is supplying free rice to the poor under the Prime Minister's Garib Kalyan Yojana to overcome the effects of Covid-19, she said that yet there are no pictures of Prime Minister Modi. She said that the Centre was within its rights to see the pictures of a great person like Mr Modi at shops as it supplied the rice free of cost by ensuring proper logistics, free transport, and storage. 

She cited that the pictures of Prime Minister Modi are essential to see that the rice is reaching the poor. Speaking to the Collector at the shop, Nirmala Sitharaman said, "The Central government has been giving free rice and I have come here to find out if it is really reaching the people". "Can you tell me how much the Centre is paying, the contribution of the state government, and how much you are charging from people before the free supply came about during March- April 2020 when the pandemic started?", she questioned. 

She further got angered when the Collector quoted a higher contribution from the state government. Nirmala Sitharaman awarded thirty minutes time to the Collector to get complete details. She asked, "Do you want to rethink your answer as an IAS officer of the Telangana cadre?". She asked him to find out the correct figure and according to reports, when a BJP member wanted to answer, the minister blocked the member and said, "I am sure he (Collector) knows, let him answer." 

She said that when the market price per kg was Rs 32-35 in the pre-pandemic period, the Centre had been paying about Rs 28-30, the state government was paying Rs 2 to 3 and the beneficiary paid just Rs 1. She further said, "The Modi government is now giving free rice, including transport, storage, and logistics. Prime Minister's posters are not put up anywhere when they should be there throughout Telangana." 

"Whenever our party puts up Mr Modi's photo or banner, it is torn or removed. Can you ensure as a District Collector that it does not happen in the future? I will return to this place and check", she added by stating that Telangana has received 23,95, 272 metric tonnes of foodgrains free of cost from the Centre under the PM Garib Kalyan Yojana and there are 1.91 crore beneficiaries. Nirmala Sitharaman was on a visit to Zaheerabad Lok Sabha constituency as part of BJP's Lok Sabha Pravas Yojana during which she visited a ration shop at Birkur. 

As Nirmala Sitharaman's fury has become the talk of the nation, Telangana ruling TRS has given a reply to her that has seemingly turned against the BJP by irking the Central ruling party. State Minister KT Rama Rao, son of Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, has said he was appalled by Nirmala Sitharaman's unruly conduct. The state ruling party has come up with a plan to put up Modi's pictures on LPG cylinders along with their price to slam the Centre for rising prices. 

TRS leader K Krishan took to Twitter and released a video where a tempo carries a load of LPG cylinders with Modi's photo on them along with the price per cylinder. In the photo, Modi can be seen smiling in the midst of growing prices. By sharing the video, Krishan wrote, "You wanted pictures of Modi ji, Here you are Nirmala Sitharaman ji." The Union Minister's remarks have angered the Telangana ruling ministers. 

Telangana Health Minister T Harish Rao on Saturday said Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has taken the PM's level down by asking for Modi's photo to be put up at ration shops. Rao further said, "She was talking as if the central government is giving free rice to the state. Telangana is among five or six states that take care of our country financially. So, should our Chief Minister's photo be put up here and in other states?" 

Speaking at a press conference at Tupran in the Medak district, state minister Harish Rao commented on the finances and countered Nirmala Sitharaman's remarks. Rao said, "The Centre gives hardly 50-55 per cent contribution overall. For the remaining 45 per cent, the state gives 10 kg rice free, spending Rs 3,610 crore every month."