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No Fear No Favour

Ramdev to get 700cr UP’S mid-day meal contract

You will be surprised to know Patanjali has defeated Ponty Chaddha owned wave group in getting a mid-day meal contract worth 700 Cr. This would be another milestone for Patanjali which is now India’s fastest-growing consumer product company.

Ramdev and his associates have been actively lobbying for the Rs 700-crore contract in New Delhi, reaching out to influential cabinet ministers and making representations explaining why the group is best for executing this project.

The contract is currently being managed by 10 entities, including some NGOs. It offers Panjiri (a mixture of sugar, ghee and wheat), fruits and milk to over 10 crore students in India’s most populous state.

Just two months ago, Patanjali had won an exclusive contract to not just grow expensive Ayurvedic plants in Uttarakhand, but also fix their prices.

In April, the canteen stores department of the Indian defence forces stopped selling Patanjali’s amla juice after it found out that the product was “unfit for consumption”. Further, earlier this month, a local TV channel reported that Patanjali distributed expired products to flood victims in Majuli, Assam.

If the group wins the Uttar Pradesh mid-day meal contract, it will be celebrated as a major victory by the company. This contract will make Patanjali the sole distributor of high-protein food for the state schools. The officials of Haridwar-based Patanjali Ayurved were also lobbying with senior bureaucrats and ministers of the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government in the state for the contract. The deadline for submission of tenders for the contract was extended to mid-October recently.

According to Patanjali’s spokesperson SK Tijarawala, the business decision is based on the company’s belief in “the importance of healthy food”. Tijarawala also said that Patanjali has some other mega plans, including a proposal to start fast food counters across India. According to him, there is huge International demand for acquiring franchisees of such vegetarian restaurants. He also denies any links to BJP and says that the mid-day meal contract is a “business decision”.

According to CM Trivendra Singh Rawat, Patanjali has created over 1,00,000 jobs in the state and besides creating the jobs, it has made a significant contribution to the development of Uttarakhand through his institutions. Over 100 children orphaned in the 2013 disaster stay at the Patanjali Seva Kendra. Once they complete their schooling, they will be sent to Patanjali University in Haridwar.

A long-time ally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Ramdev is often seen with powerful politicians and businessmen. He also participates in Bollywood shows and appears regularly on television shows to discuss how yoga can cure urban stress and trauma.

For almost a year, Ramdev – who has no designation in the company and draws no salary – has been claiming he has the cure for AIDS.

However, it is noteworthy that in Uttarakhand, Patanjali’s apparent closeness with the government comes after former Congress CM Vijay Bahuguna lodged several cases against Ramdev.

Currently, the contract is with Liquor Barron Ponty Chaddha’s son, but supposedly, there are many loopholes found in it.

If Patanjali gets the contract, then it will become the largest consumer company to venture into the Mid-Day Meal. Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state of India and almost 10 Crores students have their midday meal in the schools.

Undoubtedly, this would be a milestone for Patanjali.

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