Adityanath Makes Communal – and False – Claim About Ration Distribution in UP

The UP chief minister accused the erstwhile Samajwadi Party government in the state of only giving ration to those using the phrase 'Abba Jaan' – code for Muslims – but the numbers say otherwise.

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New Delhi: Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath on Sunday attacked the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in Kushinagar town, claiming that only those using the phrase ‘Abba Jaan’ – code for Muslims – used to get food grain rations before the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in the state.

“Did you get ration before 2017?” Adityanath asked the crowd and said, “Earlier only those who used to say ‘Abba jaan [a term commonly used by Muslims to address their fathers]’ were digesting the ration. The ration meant for Kushinagar went to Nepal and Bangladesh back then.” He added that under his regime “if someone attempted to take away ration from the poor, the individual will definitely land in jail”.

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah criticised Adityanath for attacking the Muslim community in his speech ahead of the 2022 UP assembly polls. He tweeted: “I’ve always maintained the BJP has no intention of fighting any election with an agenda other than blatant communalism & hatred with all the venom directed towards Muslims. Here is a CM seeking re-election claiming that Muslims ate up all the rations meant for Hindus.”

Ration cards in Uttar Pradesh

Adityanath’s claim is being seen as an attempt  to communalise the atmosphere in the state in the run-up to elections because at no point in any state in India have ration cards formally been distributed on the basis of religion.

For the chief minister’s claim to have any basis at all, the number of ration cards holders and beneficiaries in Uttar Pradesh would have had to increase substantially after Adityanath came to power.

At the moment, according to the government’s National Food Security Act website, 3.59 crore ration cards have been issued in Uttar Pradesh covering 14.86 crore beneficiaries (out of a population of 19.98 crore, according to the 2011 Census).

Adityanath took office as chief minister on March 19, 2017. Almost exactly a year before that – on March 1, 2016 – then Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav launched the National Food Security Act, 2013 in the state. The aim, he said then, was to extend benefits of the Act to more than 75% of the state’s population.

About eight months after this announcement (and four months before Adityanath became chief minister), on November 15, 2016, 14.01 crore people were already benefitting from the NFSA in Uttar Pradesh. That is only 85 lakh beneficiaries less than the number of people covered today, according to the official numbers.

To put this in perspective, according to the 2011 Census, there are 15.9 crore Hindus in Uttar Pradesh and 3.84 crore Muslims. It is impossible, then, that the Samajwadi Party government issued ration cards only to Muslims – the numbers speak for themselves.

On the other side, people also pointed out that hunger and deprivation has continued under Adityanath’s rule. An independent journalist, Srishti, in a thread on Twitter pointed out how many people – both Hindu and Muslim – died or fell seriously ill because they did not have access to government-provided rations.

Adityanath’s other allegations

Adityanath also accused the SP and the BSP governments of “liking darkness”, claiming that the two parties had failed to provide proper power supply to people during their respective terms.

The chief minister also dubbed the Congress as  the “mother of terrorism” and the Samajwadi Party a “bichhu”, or scorpion without naming it.

“The Congress is the mother of all terrorism in the country. There is no need to tolerate those giving wounds to the country,” he said, adding that “the BJP gives respect to all and all faiths”.

“Those who fired bullets at devotees of Lord Ram and support the Taliban with their casteism and dynastic mindset will never be tolerated by the people of the state. Remember, a ‘bichhu’ (scorpion) will sting, wherever it is,” he said.

Adityanath’s speech assuring the public that the saffron party respects all faiths comes amid several reports about targeted attacks and arrests of persons from the minority community.

He launched the attack on the Opposition parties in Kushinagar while laying foundation stones for projects worth Rs 400 crore in the district, shortly after inaugurating the district prison in Sant Kabir Nagar built at the cost of Rs 126 crore.

(With inputs from PTI)