Tamil Nadu’s Amma Canteen has been a widespread success, that now Karnataka and UP follow suit. On the basis of Congress’ initiative of “Food For All”, Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi inaugurated “Indira Canteen” in Bengaluru on Wednesday. He said the canteen will serve the “poorest” and the “weakest” in Bengaluru and assured that the services will be comparable to any good restaurant in the city.
While inaugurating the first Indira canteen in Bengaluru, Rahul Gandhi referred to it as Amma canteen once by mistake. His “Amma canteen” slip-of-tongue only shows just how popular Amma canteens are. In his speech at the inaugural event, promising hygienic meals at affordable rates, Rahul Gandhi congratulated the state government but had several faux pas moments where in most noticeably he called the ‘Indira Canteen’ as the ‘Amma Canteen’.
Launched in 2013 by then Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa, Amma canteens, or Amma Unavagam, are synonymous with good and affordable food. A day after Jayalalithaa’s death in December last year when entire Chennai was shut, Amma canteens continued to serve people.
In May 2014, a delegation from Egypt praised Amma canteens and expressed a desire to replicate the model back home. “Brand Amma” had become a huge rage then.
Following Amma’s concept, Andhra Pradesh launched similar initiatives named after “Anna”. Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu inaugurated Anna NTR Canteen in June last year. Here the daily-wage workers and poor are provided subsidised meals.
Karnataka: Congress VP Rahul Gandhi takes a meal at the newly inaugurated Indira Canteen in Bengaluru. pic.twitter.com/h0agD1V4o5
— ANI (@ANI) August 16, 2017
In 2015, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced that Aam Aadmi Canteens would replace the Jan Ahaar project of the previous Sheila Dikshit-led Congress government.
After much delay, Delhi finally got its first Aam Aadmi Canteen in January this year. The first such canteen was opened at the Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Narayan Hospital on a pilot basis where the meals cost Rs 10.
This was his second visit to Bengaluru within a week and commended the Siddaramaiah government for reaching out to the poor with the affordable food at canteens program, named after his grandmother and India’s first and only woman Prime Minister.
He had certain bloopers in a part of his speech, termed the program as Amma Canteen. “Every citizen of Karnataka, under the Siddaramaiah government should feel he won’t go hungry. That is the vision of the Amma…Indira Canteen.” he said. He also twice almost referred to the canteens as campaigns before correcting himself.
While Rahul Gandhi did immediately correct himself, and did control some slip of toungue in certain areas, his entire speech was full of such several similar errors. “The chief minister has mentioned to me that Bangalore is just the beginning. Soon, over the next couple of months, every single city in Bangalore, every single poor person in every single city in Bangalore will feel that in the state of Karnataka, under Siddaramaiah government, ‘I simply cannot go hungry” he said.
Nonetheless, he did outline that while breakfast would cost Rs 5, lunch and dinner would be served at Indira Canteen for Rs 10. “It is our intention that the quality of food, the cleanliness in this canteen is the same as the most expensive restaurants in Bangalore.”
After materialising these noble initiatives, the effects of these are manifold. Now, ahead of the Karnataka Assembly election which is likely to take place next year, the Congress government under Siddaramaiah has launched Indira canteens.
Also, taking a jibe at BJP, Rahul Gandhi challenged BJP to eat food at Indira Canteen.
— ANI (@ANI) August 16, 2017
The election is a litmus test for the Congress after dismal performance in the 2017 Assembly elections in five states.
Against an aggressive campaign by the BJP and some of the old Congress hands, including S M Krishna, joining the party, the Indira canteen may help the Congress reach out to more people.
By emulating the Amma canteen concept, the Congress perhaps is also expecting to outdo the electoral success of former Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa. Rahul Gandhi’s bloopers, Indira or Amma Canteen?