Leading the opposition's criticism of the food security bill, senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi described the UPA's ambitious legislation as nothing but a "vote security bill."
"This is not a food security bill, it is a vote security bill. The government took four years to come up with the food security bill, and I thought it would be extensive," he said during the debate in the Lok Sabha.
Joshi said the government is not giving food to all whereas universal food guarantee should be the aim. "I live in a city. What should I eat? Should I eat coal or spectrum?"
Joshi said, "In 2009, they promised to bring the food security bill. After 4.5 years when they are about to go, they are bringing this bill. We want to know what they were doing in the last 4.5 years."
He echoed objections raised by Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi in his letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh earlier this month, where he said the scheme will not entitle beneficiaries to adequate calorie intake, and promote malnutrition.
"The bill says adequate nutrition. But what is the meaning of 'adequate'? This bill says household. Does it also include those households where a single member lives? The bill says ready to eat food, nutritional food and fortified food. Where will all of this come from? Where will you get protein from if you made no provision for dal (pulses)? Will you give them chicken soup?"
Joshi said the legislation could cripple agriculture as farmers would lose incentive to raise food crop. "Already, 2,500 farmers are giving up work every year. We want to help the government in providing food to all. But, you must tell us, how will you do it? One hand, farmers giving up cultivation will mean that foodgrains will become scarcer and we will have to buy more. On the other hand, the number of hungry people will also go up," he added.
To pass key pending legislations, the government has decided to extend the ongoing monsoon session of Parliament till September 6. It intends to pass key bills relating to food security, economic reforms and land acquisition in this time period.
The government is hopeful of passing the pension fund bill, land acquisition bill and other legislations.