Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s younger brother Prahlad, whose organisation is fighting for a better deal to PDS shop owners, has warned of electoral reverses for BJP in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar if the Centre continues to turn a blind eye to their demands.
Prahlad Modi, vice president of All India Fair Price Dealers’ Federation, participated in an agitation against the Centre at Azad maidan where he reminded the government of the role of his organisation in mobilising votes for BJP in Lok Sabha elections in UP and said neglecting the dealers will be detrimental to the saffron party.
“BJP could sweep UP in the Lok Sabha elections with 73 of the 80 seats due to support of the 75,000 fair price shop owners. Ahead of the Delhi polls, the government started neglecting this segment and the results are for everybody to see.
“If this continues, the 70,000 PDS owners from Bihar will not cooperate which can have adverse impact on BJP’s fortunes. The same will happen in UP,” he told a gathering of the dealers yesterday.
“Hum ration bechte hain aur logon ki aatmiyata kharidte hain (we sell ration and buy people’s intimacy),” he told PTI, adding that the neighbourhood ration shop owner is like a “family member” who influences voting in a big way.
Pralhad Modi said the fair price dealers are directly connected with women and it takes “only two minutes” to influence their minds. “Hum sarkar badal sakte hain” (we can change the government),” he asserted.
The PDS dealers have been asking for an increase in commissions and also an assurance to serve at least 1,000 card holders per dealer.
Asked if he had spoken to the Prime Minister on the issue or would lobby him to have the demands met, Prahlad replied in the negative.
He said the Federation representatives had met the Minister for Food and Civil Supplies and the concerned
secretary in the past. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi should look into the concerns of the PDS dealers,” he said.
“Inflation is so high, the cost of living is going up and we need to be compensated fairly,” Prahlad, who owns a PDS shop in Ahmedabad and has been associated with the business since 1980, said.
The fair price shop dealers are staging demonstrations across state capitals and will hold one at New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar and a rally at Ramlila Maidan on March 17 before the ongoing Budget session ends.