Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday took a swipe at the government over reports that rice would be used to make sanitisers and asked the poor of the country as to when will they wake up.

Rahul Gandhi said that the government was cleaning the hands of the rich while depriving the poor by allowing surplus rice to be used for making sanitisers. (Photo: PTI)

Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi has criticised the Centre’s decision to allow surplus rice to be used to make ethanol for sanitisers amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Calling the decision as “pro-rich”, he asked poor to “come out and protest”. Congress has demanded that alcohol distilleries should be asked to produce ethanol for sanitizers instead.

Rahul Gandhi took to Twitter to take a swipe at the Modi government’s decision. He said that the government was cleaning the hands of the rich while depriving the poor by allowing surplus rice to be used for making sanitizers.

“When will the poor wake up to this reality? You are dying of hunger and they are stealing your rice to make sanitizers to clean hands of the rich,” Rahul Gandhi tweeted.

Later, briefing media persons, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said that the government decision is “mocking the poor of this country”. He said, “We have seen migrant labourers walking for miles for days, there is lack of food for them, the Congress party had requested the government that people who do not qualify under Right to Food should also be given food in the given circumstances.” “But the government decision is a bad joke on the poor, why can’t it focus on distilleries? Instead of announcing food grains for the poor, the government has given a shocker to the poor. They should tell how much surplus rice is lying in our godowns,” he added.

Reacting to Rahul Gandhi’s comment, Union Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said, “I don’t know what he [Rahul Gandhi] is saying, it is a surplus item and sanitisers are not only for rich.” “States will play a role in feeding the poor. We are already supplying food items to states, only negative thinking will not work in the fight against coronavirus,” the minister added.

The government on Monday approved that surplus rice available with Food Corporation of India (FCI) can be converted into ethanol in order to manufacture alcohol-based hand sanitisers and also for blending with petrol.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the National Biofuel Coordination Committee (NBCC).

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