Terming the recommendations of the National Advisory Council on the proposed Food Security Bill as discouraging, senior leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) Sitaram Yechury on Friday underlined the need for a people's movement to pressure the Manmohan Singh government to go in for a universal public distribution system to ensure food security in the country.
Addressing a seminar on food security at the CPI(M) State headquarters here, Mr. Yechury said the NAC's recommendations were actually aimed at excluding a vast majority of poor from the subsidised foodgrains programme. The recommendations, if accepted, would complicate the issue further, he added.
As opposing the recommendations inside Parliament would not be of much help, people must unite to highlight the demand for universal PDS, Mr. Yechury said.
Stating that the recommendation that 75 per cent of the population would be provided foodgrains at subsidised rates was only meant for the purpose of propaganda, Mr. Yechury said, in reality only 40 per cent of the population who would be kept under the ‘priority households' category would get 35 kg of rice at a subsidised rate.
Mr. Yechury blamed the United Progressive Alliance government for saying that universal PDS would add to the financial burden, while questioning the tax concessions given by the Centre to the rich.
“The country has enough foodgrains, sufficient money, and there is a need to provide essential commodities to the poor at subsidised prices,” he said.
Mr. Yechury also cautioned the Centre about the proposed move to allow agricultural produce from the U.S. to be sold in the country.
“Such a move would adversely affect agriculture in our country as the U.S. provides huge subsidy to its farmers, while subsidy for agriculture is decreasing in our country.”
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should apprise U.S. President Barack Obama of the situation during his coming visit and work “for protecting the interests of the country's poor rather than that of the U.S.,” Mr. Yechury said.