Congress President Sonia Gandhi's ambitious Food Security Bill on Monday night won the Lok Sabha vote after days of unruly scenes in Parliament. The Food Security Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha after Sonia Gandhi forcefully pushed the case.
Sonia Gandhi, who spoke in Hindi for most part of her speech, hit out at critics of food subsidy, saying the food law was important for the country. She dismissed concerns about funding, saying resources will have to be managed to finance the Food Bill expenses.
"Some people have asked whether we have the resources for such a scheme. The question is not whether we have the resources or not but rather how we consolidate the resources. Some people have questioned the feasibility of the scheme. We have no option, we have to do make the scheme work," Sonia said in Lok Sabha on Monday.
The Congress President also made it a point to mention that by passing the Bill, the UPA was fulfilling one of its major poll promises made in 2009. She also said that this Bill is necessary to improve the Public Distribution System.
"There is a need to improve the PDS. We have to make sure that the right people benefit from the PDS. There is a huge problem of leakages in the PDS in some areas. These have to be plugged," Sonia said.
Speaking for the Bharatiya Janata Party, Murli Manohar Joshi demanded more people be covered under the Food Bill and called it a vote securing bill for the UPA. "The Bill says that it is universal, but it provides food to only half the population. What will the other half of the population eat? The bill should aim to guarantee food to everyone. This is not the Food Security Bill, this is a vote-securing bill," Joshi said.
In fact, Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj even called the bill 'half-baked and weak'. "We had proposed some amendments. Had the government accepted them, the bill would have been better But it seems that the government is bent on passing this bill. So we support this weak bill. We will change it once we come to power," Sushma said.
Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav also described the Food Security Bill as a poll gimmick by UPA II. "The government is bringing the bill with the elections in mind. The bill has nothing for the poor," Mulayam said.
Despite opposition and criticism, the ambitious bill was adopted by the House through a voice vote after the combined discussion on the measure and a statutory resolution seeking to disapprove the ordinance promulgated on July 5. Over 300 amendments moved by the Opposition were rejected.
However, Sonia, who is the main force behind the bill, could not participate in voting as she fell ill during voting on amendments and had to leave the House at around 8.15 pm. She was later admitted to AIIMS's intensive care unit. She was later discharged after her check-up was completed.
Meanwhile, MoS PMO V Narayanasamy said, "We accepted the amendments moved by SP and DMK." Food Minister KV Thomas said that he is hopeful that the Food Bill will be passed in the Rajya Sabha.
Reacting on the passing of the Food Bill in Lok Sabha, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the bill is another step of the UPA government in the direction of pro-people policies.