Long due, Food Security Bill meets mixed reaction
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The Samajwadi Party (SP), which supports the UPA from outside, Monday demanded the landmark Food Security Bill be put in abeyance until the states are consulted while the BJP dubbed it as a "vote security bill".
The main opposition party picked holes in the proposed law and questioned 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-thirds 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"
SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav too 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 an additional burden on states.
Raising a number of questions over the bill, Yadav said it 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.
He questioned the government whether it had any assessment of the number of poor in the country. "There is no mention in the Bill. You don't have any figure. You are only going by assumptions," Yadav said, adding the Bill could be brought only after the BPL census was completed.