Emulate Chhattisgarh Food Act, BJP tells Congress

New Delhi, May 17 (IANS) The BJP Friday hit back at Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi for his remarks that the Opposition was responsible for the UPA’s failure to pass the Food Security Bill, saying the UPA government should emulate the Chhattisgarh Food Security Act.

The Bharatiya Janata Party said the Chhattisgarh Food Security Act covers a higher proportion of the population and provides foodgrain at a cheaper cost.

“If the Congress has real concern for the poor, it should emulate the Chhattisgarh Food Security Act, which ensures more coverage, more foodgrains and less cost to the poor,” BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.

Javadekar termed Gandhi’s allegations as “baseless” and said a “callous and casual approach” of the Congress towards the poor has resulted in a “half-hearted bill”.

He said the Congress should blame itself for non-passage of the Food Security Bill in the budget session of parliament.

Gandhi had said Thursday that he was very sad that the BJP and other opposition parties had created hindrance for political reasons in passing the Food Security Bill in parliament.

Javadekar said the proposed Food Security Bill covers only 67 percent of the population and increases possibilities of errors of exclusion and inclusion.

“The Chhattisgarh Act covers 90 percent of the population and excludes only income tax payers and big land holders. The UPA bill gives only five kg (of foodgrain) per person for the APL (above poverty line) category whereas the Chhattisgarh Act gives seven kg per person universally,” he said.

The Food Security Bill was moved for discussion in the second half of the budget session of parliament.

Javadekar said the Chhattisgarh Act provides for rice at Re.1 per kg, while the proposed UPA bill has put a price of Rs.3 per kg for rice.

“The Chhattisgarh Act takes care of nutrition by providing pulses and iodised salt to the needy, while the proposed UPA bill only talks about cereals,” he said.

Chhattisgarh is ruled by the BJP.

Javadekar said the Congress had aimed to pass the Food Security Bill in the last year of UPA-II rule.

“This speaks for their sincerity and sense of purpose. There are several issues to be discussed in the bill like coverage, cost of the scheme, cost to the consumer, quantity, farm production security, nutrition and concerns expressed by more than 12 states,” he said.

The Congress had promised to enact a national food security act in its 2009 poll manifesto.

Javadekar accused the Congress of not being serious in bringing meaningful poverty alleviation programmes and said the country was discussing food security for the poor decades after the Congress gave a slogan of “Garibi Hatao (remove poverty)”.

“The Congress owes an explanation as to why such magnitude of poverty remains even after its rule for half a century,” he said.

Javadekar alleged that the second half of the budget session of parliament was wasted because of “adamancy of the Congress”.

“The Congress is responsible for not getting other bills passed,” he said.

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