‘Selling Nationalism’: Rahul Gandhi Alleges Ration Card Holders ‘Forced’ to Buy National Flag

|India | Updated: August 11, 2022 6:51 pm

New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday, August 10, alleged that ration card holders were being forced to buy the national flag by shopkeepers and accused the BJP of selling “nationalism” and hurting the poor’s self-respect.

The government, however, refuted the suggestion that the poor are being forced to buy the flag for ration on its instruction.

New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday, August 10, alleged that ration card holders were being forced to buy the national flag by shopkeepers and accused the BJP of selling “nationalism” and hurting the poor’s self-respect.

The government, however, refuted the suggestion that the poor are being forced to buy the flag for ration on its instruction.

He had said it will be unfortunate if the celebrations for the 75th anniversary of Independence become a “burden on the poor”.

In a tweet in Hindi, he had said it was “shameful” to force the poor to pay for the ‘Tiranga’ and deny them their food.

“Tiranga lives in the heart of every Indian,” Varun Gandhi said in the same tweet.

New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday, August 10, alleged that ration card holders were being forced to buy the national flag by shopkeepers and accused the BJP of selling “nationalism” and hurting the poor’s self-respect.

The government, however, refuted the suggestion that the poor are being forced to buy the flag for ration on its instruction.

In a Facebook post in Hindi, Gandhi said “tricolour is our pride and it resides in every Indian’s heart”.

“Nationalism can never be sold. It is shameful that while giving ration, poor are being asked to cough up Rs 20 for the tricolour,” Gandhi alleged.

“Along with the tricolour, the BJP government is also attacking the self-respect of the poor of our country,” the former Congress chief said as he shared a video purportedly showing some ration card holders complaining about being forced to pay Rs 20 to buy the flag. The Wire has not been able to independently verify the authenticity of the video.

Earlier in the day, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Varun Gandhi too had alleged that ration card holders were being forced to buy the national flag as a condition to avail the ration.

He had said it will be unfortunate if the celebrations for the 75th anniversary of Independence become a “burden on the poor”.

In a tweet in Hindi, he had said it was “shameful” to force the poor to pay for the ‘Tiranga’ and deny them their food.

“Tiranga lives in the heart of every Indian,” Varun Gandhi said in the same tweet.

Earlier, reports had emerged from Anantnag and Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir over alleged orders from officials directing shopkeepers and students to pay Rs 20 as a “deposit fee” for the tricolour to be unfurled. Chief education officer (CEO) Anantnag had to withdraw a controversial circular for schools in the district, asking students and teachers to pay the Rs 20 fee after the order went viral on social media.

Similarly, in a purported video from J&K, officials of municipal committee Bijbehara town in Anantnag were making announcements and threatening shopkeepers that “in case they failed to deposit the amount their licenses may get cancelled”.

Opposition parties in the UT had hit out at the local administration. The former chief minister and PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti, CPI (M) leader Yusuf Tarigami, among others slammed the campaign, saying “patriotism comes naturally and can’t be imposed”.

‘No such instruction given’: Government

However, the government said no instruction was given to ration shop owners to deny ration supplies for not buying the national flag and that action had been taken against a ration shop owner for violating orders.

“No such instruction has been given by GOI (Government of India). About 80 crore people are receiving ration seamlessly every month. An errant ration shop has been suspended for violating the order of the Govt and misrepresenting facts,” the Public Information Bureau (PIB) tweeted.

After verifying the content of the video, the Union food and consumer affairs ministry through the state government found that the PDS beneficiary was from Dadupur village, Karnal district in Haryana and a ration shop owner concerned had misrepresented the facts, a government spokesperson said.

The concerned ration shop owner had been suspended for maligning the image of the department by making false statements when no such order was issued, he added.

All state governments have also been told to ensure the PDS supplies be given to beneficiaries without imposing conditions.

The Union government has urged people to hoist or display the national flag from their homes during August 13-15 as part of its ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ programme.

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