Lok Sabha passes Food Security Bill
The discussion on the bill could be taken up only in the afternoon as the first half of the day was marred by uproarious scenes forcing discussion on the action taken by the Uttar Pradesh government in banning 84-Kosi Yatra. The bill was finally taken up after lunch with food minister KV Thomas moving it for passage.
Supporting the bill, Congress president Sonia Gandhi said: ‘This is a chance to send a historic message by our Parliament today. A clear message is being sent out today that India is ensuring food security to all its citizens’.
Gandhi added, ‘It is not a question of how we find means to implement Food Bill; we have to find the way. The question is not whether we can do it or not; but we have to do it.’
The bill proposes subsidised food grain for up to 75 per cent of the rural and up to 50 per cent of the urban population. Eligible households would get five kg of food grain per person every month Rs. 3 a kilo for rice, Rs. 2 a kilo for wheat and Rs. 1 a kilo for coarse grains. Under the plan, the government will sell subsidised wheat and rice to 67 per cent of its 1.2 billion population.
Though the amendments proposed by the opposition were not passed, Leader of Opposition, Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, supported the food security bill. ‘It would have been a better food bill if my amendments were passed, we will improve it when we come to power, however we support this half baked bill,’ said Swaraj.
In the House, replying to the debate, Thomas promised to make improvements in the legislation, while pledging not to trample on the powers of the states to implement the bill. The food minister also said the minimum support price for farmers’ produce would not be compromised as apprehended by many opposition leaders to cut corners.
The nine-hour-long debate also had its share of drama as Swaraj moved an amendment on cash transfer provision, saying that cash subsidies can be misused by men in the household to buy liquour. The electronic voting display system showed that Swaraj had the majority support on the amendment moved by her which surprised members in the house. Swaraj later agreed to a re-vote after a request from parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath saying there was a technical glitch during