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Food Security Bill: Explain hurry over bill, says BJP to Centre

Author: Deepshikha Ghosh
Publication: NDTV.com
Date: September 2, 2013
URL: http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/food-security-bill-explain-hurry-over-bill-says-bjp-to-centre-413267?pfrom=home-otherstories

The BJP today tore into the government for rushing to get its Food Security Bill through, calling its decision to bring an ordinance unconstitutional.

"What was the dire emergency to abuse constitutional powers bring an ordinance?" said Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley as the bill was taken up for debate and passing in Rajya Sabha.

"We couldn't wait for 30 days for the session to begin? This could be a political decision but the Constitution doesn't allow it."

Mr Jaitley offered a scathing critique of the government's motivation behind the bill, calling it "effectively a repackaging of existing food schemes."

"Many Chief Ministers say their existing schemes are better that the proposals under the Food Security Bill, there are states like Chhattisgarh which provide not only foodgrain but, salt, sugar and pulses as well," the BJP leader said.

The party had flagged many of these questions when the bill was taken up in the Lok Sabha, but had supported it in a vote.

Sources say despite being a minority in the upper house, the government is confident of its numbers to pass the Food Bill - seen as its main vote-getter ahead of polls due in May.

The Food Security Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on August 26. The landmark bill aims at providing rice at Rs. 3 per kg, wheat at R
s. 2 per kg and coarse cereal at Re 1 per kg to almost 800
million Indians, is expected to cost the national exchequer Rs. 1.25 lakh crore.

Questions have been raised about whether India's fragile economy can bear the cost at this time.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi had urged Parliament to take a 'historic step' by passing the Bill, but she couldn't vote on it as she was taken ill and had to be escorted to the hospital.
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