In what comes as a shot in the arm for Modi government’s promise of ending the VVIP culture in the country, subsidised rates of the Parliament canteen food is all set to become a thing of the past. Highly subsidised rates at the Parliament canteen has been a long-standing issue, and has been largely seen as a living example of elitism in the country.
As per recent reports, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, who has already become famous for his deep commitment and no-nonsense approach moved the proposal at a Business Advisory Committee (BAC) meeting, suggesting that they let go the subsidy that all Members of Parliament avail at the Parliament canteen. Lawmakers from all parties taking part in the BAC meeting came out in support of the proposal and decided to do away with the subsidised rates at the Parliament canteen.
Subsidy at the Parliament canteen would be withdrawn from the very next session and the parliamentarians will have to pay for the canteen food according to the cost of food preparation on a “no profit, no loss” basis. The new rate will not apply only to the MPs, but also to the officials of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, media persons, security personnel as well as visitors.
A total of Rs. 17 crore is expected to be saved once the Parliament canteen is rid of the subsidised rates and starts selling at “no profit, no loss” basis. However, more important than this saving is the loud and clear message that this move is going to give. It shows that political elitism has become a thing of the past, especially with lawmakers from all parties voluntarily and unanimously deciding to do away with the regressive rates.
This is the second time since Modi government came to power that a revision of Parliament canteen rates has taken place. Last time, the Parliament canteen had become costlier from January 2016 after a rate revision was ordered by the then Speaker of the lower house, Sumitra Mahajan. Now, the rates have been totally rationalised and that comes as a big boost to Modi government’s efforts to rationalise subsidies at a larger level. Till now, a common argument was why should the commoner give up irrational subsidies, when the lawmaker enjoyed such highly subsidised food rates. Even in the ongoing JNU fee hike issue, this argument has been repeatedly raised by the protesters. Now this argument has been abolished with this move and now the government will feel that much more emboldened to pursue its agenda of rationalising subsidies.