BJP, SP, CPI and AIADMK also plan to move amendments

Dissatisfied with the revised National Food Security Bill that was tabled in Parliament on Wednesday, several political parties are preparing to move crucial amendments. Most have reservations on cut in grains entitlements, lack of nutrition entitlements, provision for revision in issue prices in three years, exclusion of destitutes, migrants and the Centre framing rules on the Public Distribution System reforms that the States will have to implement.

The CPI(M) has already given notice in the Lok Sabha for over 50 amendments, while the BJP, the SP, the CPI and the AIADMK also plan to move amendments. The Biju Janata Dal, the Shiv Sena and the Trinamool Congress are in the process of finalising their strategy on the Bill. The revised Bill is scheduled for discussion and passage later during the session.

The Bill provides for subsidised grains to 67 per cent population. The eligible beneficiaries will be identified by State governments.

The Janata Dal (United), which has just come out of the National Democratic Alliance, is keeping its cards close to its chest, although Bihar’s allocation under the Bill goes up as per the new calculations put out by the Planning Commission. Speaking to The Hindu, JD(U) president Sharad Yadav said the party would take a view soon on moving amendments.

The CPI(M) has reservations on several clauses relating to cut in household entitlements, identification of beneficiaries, issue price of commodities, the Planning Commission’s figures for State-wise allocations, imposition of the Central government’s reforms, including cash transfers on the States through framing of rules. The party wants present allocations to be maintained by law and the coverage to be universal with the exclusion of income tax payees. It wants community kitchens and adequate quantities of sugar, pulses and cooking oil to be included in the PDS. Any decision should be in consultation with the States.

The BJP is mainly focussed on a food security law that covers at least 90 per cent of the population (as in the Chhattisgarh Food Security Bill). It wants the grains entitlement to be restored to 35 kg a family instead of five kg an individual and pulses (at Rs. 5 a kg), cooking oil (at Rs. 10 a kg) and kerosene to be included in the PDS. The Centre can only indicate to the States a broad criterion for identification of beneficiaries, not come up with cut-offs for the States.

The SP wants that the grains requirement for the PDS under the Bill should be sourced from farmers who should get minimum support price and assured income over and above it. It wants all the below poverty line population in the State to be covered under the Bill and the poorest of the poor to get the rations free of cost.

Meanwhile, cutting across party lines several parliamentarians joined a demonstration here on Wednesday organised by the Right to Food Campaign. A majority of the participants from several States were women, who lamented the cut in entitlements and the confusion in fresh identification of beneficiaries.

Among those who addressed the sit-in were Basudeb Acharia and Rajesh (both CPI(M), Prabodh Panda and D. Raja (both CPI) and Ali Anwar (JD(U)). Prakash Javadekar of the BJP, being held up in Parliament, sent his message of solidarity, said Kavita Srivastava of the Steering Committee.

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