Mulayam criticises UPA move to push food bill

Mulayam criticises UPA move to push food bill

Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav echoed Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) poll campaign chief Narendra Modi’s views when he told the Lok Sabha on Monday that the Food Security Bill should be held back till the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government builds a consensus after holding a meeting of chief ministers, because the states have to execute the ambitious scheme. 

The Samajwadi Party, which has given outside support to the UPA, expressed its reservation to various provisions of the Food Security Bill, alleging that the ruling Congress-led coalition had brought it in Parliament with an eye on the elections. Yadav contended that it should be kept in abeyance till chief ministers are consulted, as it would put additional burden on states.

Narendra Modi wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on July 7 requesting him to a hold a meeting of chief ministers and not push the legislation through in a haste, besides flagging other concerns. 

Food Minister K V Thomas, in his reply to the debate, rejected the contention of leaders including Mulayam Singh Yadav on the grounds that he had written four times to chief ministers seeking their opinions on the bill, apart from rejecting the proposed food scheme during National Development Council meetings.

Giving instances of wider consultations, he said that the government had adopted all the recommendations of the standing committee that were unanimous.

SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, who made a huge political point of its objection, said “It’s clear. The bill has been brought keeping an eye on the elections. Why didn't you bring this bill earlier, when poor people were dying because of hunger? You come up with such things before every elections. Last time, it was NREGA,” said Yadav, joining the debate on the Food Security Bill.

He claimed that the implementation of the proposed legislation would impose extra financial burden on the states, but the UPA government had ignored their concerns and formulated the bill. The government should hold consultations with all the chief ministers on the bill and bring amendments to it before seeking its passage, demanded Yadav. 

“Who will bear the extra financial burden? Will the Centre bear it? There is no mention of these things in the bill. The (financial) conditions of states are already very bad. You bring a law and leave its implementation on the states,” he alleged. 

Yadav said the bill was neither for the welfare of farmers nor poor people of the country, wondering why the government did not ensure that every grain produced by farmers would be purchased by it. 

He also pointed out that the Bill was brought for its passage in Parliament at time when government did not have exact figures of those living below the poverty line (BPL).

“This has not been mentioned in the bill. You don't have any figure. You are only going by assumptions,” said Yadav, suggesting that the proposed legislation should only be implemented after the BPL census results come.

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