Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, a harsh critic of the National Food Security Bill, on Sunday declared that her party would support the Bill if the Centre agreed to incorporate all the amendments she had suggested. She also wanted the Centre to announce the price at which it would supply nearly 15 lakh tonne rice to the State.
Though conditional, the offer assumes significance as the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) general secretary had been voicing reservations about the proposed legislation ever since the draft was launched nearly two years ago.
Her opposition to the Bill was broadly over issues concerning entitlement and the consequent financial implication. As the State had decided to maintain the existing level of free rice supply even in the face of Centre imposing limits on the number of beneficiaries, it would be required to pay a higher price for the additional quantity.
At one point, she dubbed the ordinance ‘National Food Insecurity Bill’ besides almost consistently raising doubts about the stand of the principal opposition, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), to the Bill.
It is in this backdrop, Ms. Jayalalithaa issued a statement on Sunday — details of her letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday were also released the same day — stating some of issues raised by her had been addressed in the first set of amendments. So far as her party was concerned, the key demands pertained to the allocation of foodgrains/rice and price.