After FDI in retail,
Congress set to introduce Food Security Bill
September 25, 2012
big-bang reforms, which dealt a cruel blow to the common man
already battling inflation, the Congress-led government is now
ready to unleash a populist trump card that it believes will
bring a shift in popular sentiment prior to the general
The government is
planning to introduce the Food Security Bill which is expected
to cover 70 per cent of the population, but could cost the
exchequer at least Rs 1.19 lakh crore by way of subsidy.
"The draft Bill is
being given the final touches by the Cabinet. This will ensure
that the poor will have their stomachs full. Nobody will sleep
"And when the law
comes into force, people will get good food at low prices.
Seventy per cent of India will come within the ambit. We want to
see which party can oppose the Food Bill," Union Law Minister
Salman Khurshid said in an exclusive interview to Rahul Kanwal
on Aajtak's Seedhi Baat.
Asked whether it
could swing the tide in favour of the crisis-ridden UPA just
like its flagship scheme, MGNREGA, did the last time, Khurshid
said: "In a democracy, every political party has the right to
showcase its achievements before elections. Some parties believe
in putting hurdles, but we believe in portraying our good work."
The minister also
said that very soon the National Rural Health Mission ( NHRM)
could be extended to the urban class - a clear attempt at
addressing the discontent among the middle class.
Rebutting talks of
running a minority government, Khurshid said: "These Bills will
have political consensus," meaning they would try to drive a
political balance between populism and reforms.
And there's another
Bill in the pipeline to safeguard farmers.
"We will also table
the Land Acquisition Bill. This was Mamata's agenda in Singur.
Can she oppose the Bill now? We are confident that the SP and
other allies will back this Bill. So there's no cause of concern
about numbers in Parliament," the law minister said.
So why did the UPA-II
take three years to shake off policy paralysis and announce the
reforms in one go? Was it to stave off intense pressure to allow
the entry of foreign investors or was the Prime Minister more
worried about global rating agencies than about the common man?
"It's all about timing. The move wasn't sudden. We have to keep
in mind when we make friends, anticipate when ties could snap
and what alternatives we have," Khurshid said.
He also tried to
call the bluff of the Trinamool Congress and the BJP on FDI in
"The BJP had even
created a Cabinet note on FDI. It had even mentioned it in its
manifesto. Why this U-turn now," he asked.
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