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Food security bill in limbo as govt, BJP in war of words

Agencies  New Delhi, May 07, 2013
First Published: 14:11 IST(7/5/2013) | Last Updated: 15:50 IST(7/5/2013)

Government and the BJP were today engaged in a war of words over the food security bill pending for consideration in Lok Sabha since last week.

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While government accused BJP of creating obstacles in the passage of a bill "which seeks to end hunger," the Opposition party said it would prefer to end Congress' "hunger for ill-gotten money" before pasing the ambitious legislation.

Parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath specifically targeted the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), saying it did not want the bill to pass while other opposition parties had no objections to the bill.

"On the one hand the BJP says they want to have a discussion on the land acquisition bill and the food security bill, both these are historic bills. On the other hand they disturb the functioning of the house," Kamal Nath told reporters.

"Other political parties want to discuss and debate and pass the bill. It's only the BJP which is creating these problems. It's very unfortunate that this session has been washed away because the BJP does not want to say in the house what they are saying outside the house. Everything they have said in TV studios can be said in the house to which the government can reply," he added.

Taking on the BJP for calling it the most corrupt government, Kamal Nath said that the results of the Karnataka elections on Wednesday will prove who the people truly believe are corrupt.

"In the last several months, the BJP governments have been sent home in Uttarakhand and tomorrow it's their turn to be sent out from Karnataka," he said.

Replying to Kamal Nath's allegations, BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said: "He should be more upset about absolute, intolerable, unacceptable corruption of this government. The biggest thing that the poor of this country need is an honest administration not corrupt administration."

Information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari earlier had said that certain sections of the opposition believed in removing the hungry instead of hunger by not letting the food security bill pass.

"A bill which will provide food security to 67% of the people of this country is today being sacrificed on the altar of political opportunism... the major opposition is willing to make the poor and hungry suffer for its political gains," he added, pointing towards the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Hitting back at Tewari, BJP general secretary Rajiv Pratap Rudy said while his party is willing to get important legislations passed, it would first like to end Congress' "hunger for ill-gotten money" before passing the food bill.

"Yes, we want to end the hunger of the people. But before that we want to end their (Congress') hunger for ill-gotten money," Rudy said in an apparent attack on railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal - involved in a controversy over arrest of his nephew while allegedly accepting a bribe for a plum posting in the Railway Board.

Minister of state for parliamentary affairs Rajeev Shukla agreed, saying that the opposition should let the house function for at least a day so that the bill can be discussed.

"They have made a mockery of the house. Every day they create a ruckus and won't allow the house to function. At least they should keep calm and discuss the bill for one day," Shukla said.

A war of words broke out between the Congress and the opposition over the National Food Security Bill, which the government tried to debate in Lok Sabha and get passed Monday.

The opposition continued to disrupt the house over the allocation of coal blocks as food minister KV Thomas moved the bill, saying it was a key UPA legislation that would give the right to subsidised grain to around 67% of the population.

The BJP, meanwhile, has made it clear that it would not let Parliament function till Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, railway minister PK Bansal and law minister Ashwani Kumar step down.

(With PTI and IANS inputs)


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