Food Security Bill passed in Lok Sabha, BJP calls it `vote security bill`

UPA government`s flagship programme and Congress president Sonia Gandhi`s pet project, the Food Security Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on Monday.

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: UPA government`s ambitious programme and Congress president Sonia Gandhi`s pet project, the Food Security Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on Monday. It seeks to provide cheap food grains to approximately 82 crore people in the country, ushering in the biggest programme in the world to fight hunger.

The passage of the bill will pave the way to give nation`s two-third population the right to 5 kg of food grain every month at highly subsidised rates of Rs 1-3 per kg.

The bill was adopted by the House through a voice vote after a combined discussion on the measure and a statutory resolution seeking to disapprove the ordinance promulgated on July 5.

Voting on over 300 amendments moved by the Opposition were taken up today in the lower House. The amendments moved by MPs Gurudas Das Gupta and Sampath were defeated on the floor of the House. Also, the amendments by moved by the leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj were defeated. Meanwhile, the Samajwadi Party, who is giving outside support to the UPA, withdrew its amendments.

The bill now will be taken up in the Rajya Sabha. After the bill gets Rajya Sabha`s nod, India will join the select league of countries that guarantee majority of its population food grains. At Rs 1,30,000 crore government support, the food security programme will be the largest in the world. It would require 62 million tonnes of food grains.

However, about 2.43 crore poorest of the poor families covered under the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) scheme under PDS (Public Distribution System) would get legal entitlement to 35 kg of food grains per family per month.

Thomas rejected suggestion for making food security net universal. On contentions that such measures were better in some states like Chhattisgarh and Tamil Nadu, the minister ruled replication of those at the Centre level. "Tamil Nadu, Kerala are role models. Every state is a role model. But we cannot accept that. In Chhattisgarh a particular system may have worked. But it may not be acceptable to Tamil Nadu and other states," the minister said.

After much delay, Food Security Bill was taken up in Lok Sabha today with Sonia Gandhi asking all parties to set aside differences and ensure its unanimous passage.

Main opposition BJP dubbed the measure as "vote security bill" and picked holes as he questioned as to how it would be implemented and who would be the beneficiaries.

Initiating the debate after Food Minister K V Thomas moved the bill for consideration, Murli Manohar Joshi (BJP) said he was in favour of the legislation that will provide highly subsidised food to two-third of the country`s population.

At the same time, he said there were flaws in the bill which should be rectified.
Suggesting that the bill had been brought with an eye on the elections, Joshi said, "In 2009, the then President of India in his Address had talked about Food Security Bill. But you have brought this bill when you are going out..."

Gandhi, who opened her party`s innings on the debate, appealed to all political parties to set aside differences and pass the bill unanimously as a "historic occasion" has come.

Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav had contended that the bill was being brought with an eye on elections and said it should be kept in abeyance till Chief Ministers are consulted as it would put additional burden on states.

The bill approximately covers around 67 percent of the population.

Significantly, Sonia Gandhi could not participate in the voting as she had to leave the house after fell ill. She was taken to the hospital and was accompanied by her son Rahul Gandhi and Union Minister Selja Kumari.

With PTI inputs