Ahead of the Monsoon session of Parliament, former Congress ally DMK on Monday indicated its support to the UPA’s ‘game-changer’ Food Security Bill even though it has wanted a few changes in it.
Party spokesman and MP T.K.S. Elangovan said his party would not like to oppose the legislation which is intended to benefit about 67 per cent of the country’s population.
“See, the Bill intends to benefit the common man. Why should we oppose when it is intended to benefit the poor and general public? This is what we are thinking,” he told PTI.
The signal of support by DMK, which has 18 members in the Lok Sabha and five in the Rajya Sabha, assumes significance as the government is gearing up to muster as much support for its ’game-changer’ legislation in Parliament which meets on August 5. The Food Security Bill is on top of the agenda of the Monsoon session.
While indicating inclination to support, Mr. Elangovan said DMK would like the new act to be modelled on Tamil Nadu’s PDS system which is universal. The Food bill provides for targeted PDS.
“The TN model ensures a robust distribution system through cooperative outlets with a separate state-run agency at the helm -- ‘The TN Civil Supplies Corporation’ -- which is tasked with procurement, storage and distribution of food grains,” he noted.
“Considering all the benefits, a key feature of which is the coverage of all sections of the people, it is desirable to have the system of Universal PDS,” the DMK leader emphasised, but added that “The Centre says the T.N. model is a State initiative.”
The legislation, once enacted, will give the nation’s three-fourth population the right to get 5 kg of food grains every month at highly subsidised rates of Rs. 1-3 per kg.
The beneficiaries can get rice at Rs. 3 per kg while wheat and coarse cereals will be given at Rs. 2 and Rs. 1 per kg respectively under the programme.
The indication of DMK backing to the Bill comes against the background of Congress support to DMK patriarch Mr. Karunanidhi’s daughter Ms. Kanimozhi in the Rajya Sabha polls held last month.
At that time, both the Congress and the DMK had rejected speculation that the move spelt a “possible revival” of ties.
The parties also denied that it was a “quid pro quo” arrangement for support to the UPA on crucial Bills in the Parliament.
In March, the DMK had quit the UPA government and snapped ties with the Congress over the issue of Sri Lankan Tamils.
When the Food Bill was introduced in the Parliament, senior leader TR Baalu said that his party had serious reservations about it.
As regards the Land Acquisition Bill, another crucial legislation to be moved in the coming session of Parliament, Mr. Elangovan said: “We have made our position known on this Bill as well. Let us see the text of the Bill.”