Keep Food Bill in abeyance till CMs consulted: Mulayam Singh

Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav had on Monday reluctantly supported the Food Security Bill in the Lok Sabha.

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: A day after Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav reluctantly supported the Food Security Bill in the Lok Sabha, which was eventually passed in the Lower House, he on Tuesday called for keeping the proposed legislation in abeyance till all chief ministers are consulted on it.

The Upper House, or the Rajya Sabha, is expected to take up the Bill for debate on Thursday.

Mulayam yesterday said in Parliament that the Food Security Bill would put additional burden on states and that it was being brought with an eye on elections.

He further said that the Bill would badly hurt farmers as there was no guarantee in the provisions that all the produce would be bought by the government.

"It is clearly being brought for elections...Why didn`t you bring this Bill earlier when poor people were dying because of hunger?...Every election, you bring up a measure. There is nothing for the poor," he said participating in the debate on the Bill.

Yadav said he would support the bill, which provides for highly subsidised foodgrains to two-third of the country`s population, if certain amendments are moved. "This bill is neither for the poor, nor for the farmers."

The Lok Sabha yesterday unanimously passed the path-breaking Bill, which seeks to ensure subsidized food to 75 percent of the rural and half of the urban population, with Congress president Sonia Gandhi asserting it will "transform the lives of tens of millions".

After scores of opposition-backed amendments to the legislation were rejected or withdrawn, the Lok Sabha passed the Bill that is expected to cover two-thirds of India`s 1.2 billion people -- the mass of the poor and the impoverished.

The legislation, which virtually makes food a fundamental right in a country teeming with millions of poor, would involve an intake of 612 lakh tonnes of food annually and is expected to combat widespread hunger.

As envisaged in the Bill, eligible households would get five kg of foodgrains per person every month – Rs 3 a kilo for rice, Rs 2 a kilo for wheat and Rs 1 a kilo for coarse grains.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said after the passage of the bill: "It is yet another step of the UPA government`s pro-poor policies."

(With PTI inputs)

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