With its ambitious food security plan being labelled as a 'populist vote-catching scheme' by the Opposition, the government has dared BJP to declare that it was against cheaper food for the poor, claiming that the saffron party was stuck to mandir-masjid as a poll issue.
Asserting that all government schemes are supposed to be for the masses, Union minister Sachin Pilot also said Indians have moved beyond mandir-masjid issues and even BJP remembers them only before the elections.
"BJP can say what it wants. But let it come out and say that they do not want to give cheaper food to the people. They never say it because they can't," Pilot said.
The comments come in the midst of Opposition criticism that the government brought in an ordinance for food security bill as part of its preparations for the general elections.
BJP leader and Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday that the Centre was under the impression that merely bringing in the Bill would lead to food reaching the needy.
"It is amazing, how some people are saying that the right to food programme is a populist scheme and it is a vote catching scheme measure.
"What scheme of the government is not for the masses of this country? Which scheme is anti-people? There is nothing wrong if we want to give people good highways, good roads, good ports, good education, good food and good electricity," the corporate affairs minister told PTI in an interview in New Delhi.
"If we are giving cheaper food to poor people, why is it bothering anybody? I challenge any political party to come and say that this is wrong thing to do," he said.
The programme gives the nation's two-thirds population the right to get 5 kgs food grains per month at highly subsidised rates of Rs. 1-3 per kg. The government would require 62 million tonnes of food grains to implement this programme, costing the exchequer Rs. 1,25,000 crore annually.