Kolkata: West Bengal government on Monday expressed surprise at the way the UPA government was rushing through legislation on the Food Security Bill when the general election was "knocking at the door" and without a full-fledged implementation mechanism.
"Will this be the right time for the UPA government to rush through and legislate on a major issue like the proposed Food Security Bill, particularly when the general election is knocking at the door and that too, without a full-fledged implementation mechanism in place?" Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wondered.
Though saying "we strongly support providing food security to the people," she slammed the way central government was trying to "politicise" the issue.
"The special session of Parliament is reportedly being convened shortly to consider and pass the National Food Security Bill. We strongly support providing food security to the people. But, the manner in which the government is trying to politicise the issue is unjust," she said in a Facebook post.
She also doubted the efficacy of the proposed cash transfer in lieu of food grains saying, it would be of no use since banking infrastructure facilities were not available in remote areas.
Dubbing the move as a "political gimmick", she said, "We have been emphasising that the entire financial burden for development of infrastructure, storage facility etc must be borne entirely by the Government of India."
"Also, any shortfall of allocation of food grains to the state should be made over and protected by the Central Government through additional allocation," Banerjee said.
There was also a need for explicit provision for providing adequate food grains to meet requirements at times of overall shortage, she felt.
"Food security allowances will not remove hunger in times of food grain shortage. The state must be made the implementation agency and the identification of beneficiaries should be left to the state to decide," she observed.