Andhra Pradesh

300 Anna canteens in Andhra remain shut, TDP protests

On Independence Day, Bangi Anantaiah, the former Mayor of Kurnool and a Telugu Desam leader carried a bowl with some food and was seen eating out of it even as his supporters shouted slogans. This novel protest, something Anantaiah is known for in this part of Andhra Pradesh, was to protest against the closure of 300-odd Anna canteens. 

31 July was the last meal that was served at the Anna canteens, that were started by the Chandrababu Naidu regime in 2016. These were modelled on the Amma canteens in Tamil Nadu (File picture below). The TDP founder NT Rama Rao was fondly called `Anna’ hence the name. The canteens served food everyday to over 2 lakh people, most daily wage earners. Breakfast, lunch or dinner cost Rs 5 only. The food was prepared in hygienic conditions and was a huge hit in most towns.

For the last two weeks, the Anna canteens have been shut down, with no clarity on what the YS Jaganmohan Reddy intends to do with them. When the new government took over, some overenthusiastic YSR Congress activists repainted an Anna canteen in Narasaraopet and renamed it as Rajanna canteen, after YS Rajasekhara Reddy (pic below). There is speculation if the government wants to rebrand the entire lot of canteens. 

Municipal Administration minister Botsa Satyanarayana said the contract with the agency that supplied food expired on 31 July and that the government will renew the agreement soon. But with two weeks gone and no progress in sight, rumours are having a field day. Like one that says wine shops will be set up in these outlets. This is because the YSRCP government is committed to imposing prohibition and taking over the liquor trade from private retail outlets. 

The TDP social media cell has been mounting pressure by trending #ReOpenAnnaCanteens on Twitter, charging the government with taking away employment of 20000 people associated with Anna canteens. Chandrababu Naidu and Nara Lokesh too have been tweeting in support, asking Jagan to reopen the canteens

Incidentally, to counter Anna canteens, Mangalagiri MLA Alla Ramakrishna Reddy had started a Rajanna canteen in his constituency. The food at this canteen was served for Rs 4.

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