Govt keen to push bills on food security, land acquisition: Salman Khurshid

Last Updated: Sunday, September 23, 2012 - 22:40

New Delhi: After the big-bang reforms, Law Minister Salman Khurshid on Sunday indicated government`s keenness to push bills on food security and land acquisition, insisting that even Mamata Banerjee will not be able to oppose them.

He maintained that "the bills drive a deft political balance between populism and reforms".

"The draft (food security) Bill is being given the final touches by the Cabinet. This will ensure that poor will have their stomachs full. Nobody will sleep hungry. And when the law comes into force, people will get good food at low prices. 70 per cent of India will come into the ambit. We want to see which party can oppose the food Bill," Khurshid said.

The proposed Food Security Bill is estimated to cost the exchequer at least Rs 1.19 lakh crore in way of subsidy.

"We will also table the Land Acquisition Bill. This was (Trinamool Congress chief) Mamata`s agenda at Singur. Can she oppose the Bill now? We are confident that SP and other allies will back this Bill. So there`s no cause of concern about numbers in Parliament," Khurshid said in an interview to a TV channel.

The minister also said the National Rural Health Mission (NHRM) will very soon be extended to the urban class.

Rebutting talk of running a minority government, he said "these Bills will have political consensus driving a deft political balance between populism and reforms".

Refusing to accept that there was a scam in coal block allocations, he said, "When there are incidents of rapes in the country, do we call India a rape capital. There is no coal scam. There could have been discrepancies in allocations. This is being probed."

Asked why UPA-II took three years "to shake off policy paralysis" and announce the reforms, the Union Minister said, "It`s all about timing. The move wasn`t sudden. We have to keep in mind when we make friends, anticipate when ties could snap and what alternatives we have," he said.

On the opposition to FDI in retail, he said, "BJP had even created a cabinet note on FDI. Another had even mentioned it in their manifesto. Why this U-turn now?" he asked.

Dispelling fears that retail giant Walmart would monopolize the market and shut down the local kirana stores, he said, "the Completion Commission will intervene if monopoly strikes root."

On the coal allocation issue, he said, "Those who didn’t get coal blocks didn?t object about being denied. So where is the scam? There is no conflict of interest in making recommendations. The CBI is already investigating the case. And remember the CAG has clarified it did not say competitive bidding was the only option to allocate blocks."

Khurshid tried to cap the controversy by saying, "A five-judge Supreme Court bench will give its verdict on competitive bidding. If the court says CAG was right, we will accept the judgment."

PTI



First Published: Sunday, September 23, 2012 - 22:40

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