BJP and Congress have offered to provide rice at minimal cost to a select group of people if they are voted to power in this poll-bound state.
    
Congress has declared in manifesto to give 35 kg of rice free of cost to people Below Poverty Line (BPL) and Above Poverty Line (excluding income tax payee) if they form government in the state.
    
On the other hand BJP is relying on its much-touted transparent public distribution system and subsidized rice to people under Antyodaya (extremely poor) and BPL category.
    
BJP ruled Chhattisgarh government is already providing rice at Rs 1 and Rs 2 per kg to people of Antyodaya and BPL category respectively. It promises to provide rice at Rs 1 per kg to poor people in its manifesto.
    
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, who is popularly known as "Chhaur (rice in Chhattisgarhi language) Wale Babe" in the state for providing the food item at an affordable price for poor, is seeking mandate for third consecutive time.
    
With elections in 72 assembly constituencies of Chhattisgarh are scheduled for polling on November 19, politics over rice could be an important factor for both BJP and fraction-ridden Congress.
    
Villagers in this poll-bound state express satisfaction over BJP government PDS scheme and state food security act aimed at providing subsidized food items to poor.
    
"Most people of Chhattisgarh are tribal. BJP government has been providing rice at an affordable price to all. It is a good step," said Nankiram Sahu, a rice mill worker.
    
Congress is also advertising benefits to people under National Food Security Act. Chhattisgarh rice mills association, however, demands policy change to ensure Chhattisgarh gets its due in nation contribution for rice.
    
"Our rice is often being rejected by Food Corporation of India on small grounds. At times they say the quality of dhaan (which gives rice after processed through industries) is not good and give preference to other.
    
"Whether BJP wins or Congress, they must take necessary correctional steps to stop loss to farmers over non-procurement and export of Chhattisgarh rice to other states and abroad," said Raj Kumar Agrawal, President of Bilaspur Rice Mills association.
    
His claims were, however, contradicted by state government officers involved in procurement of rice.
    
"We buy rice of almost all farmers and provide minimum support price and bonuses to them for good harvest," a state government official said requesting anonymity citing code of conduct due to assembly elections.
    
According to latest central government data of rice production, Chhattisgarh was seventh largest contributor of rice in the country.
    
West Bengal was highest with 14.6 million tones production followed by Uttar Pradesh with 14.02 million tons, Andhra Pradesh with 12.89 million tons, Punjab with 10.54 million tons, Tamil Nadu with 7.45 million tons, Bihar with 7.16 million tons and Chhattisgarh with 6.02 million tons during 2011-12, the data said.
    
India has recorded 105.37 million tons of rice production during 2011-12.

(Agencies)

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