The Congress has sought the cooperation of Punjab, where a rival alliance is in power, in implementing the national food security ordinance (NFSO) in the state for the benefit of weaker sections.
The non-Congress government in Punjab should not have any reservation about implementing the ordinance designed to guarantee food to poor sections of society, All-India Congress Committee (AICC) special representative Prem Chand Mishra said on Thursday at a press conference here. Punjab Congress spokesman Sukhpal Singh Khaira was present.
When told that the Punjab government was providing poor people with food handouts under the Atta-Dal scheme already and distribution under the ordinance would only duplicate the effort, Mishra said the party would not mind, if the poor got the same benefit three times from different schemes. "I agree there is no mechanism to ensure that no family gets the same benefit from multiple schemes," he added.
On Punjab's possible reluctance to implement the ordinance, Mishra said the state should not have any reservation, as for the Atta-Dal scheme, Punjab's ruling alliance of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) received huge subsidy from the Centre. Mishra said the union government had no objection, if both schemes ran parallel in Punjab.
When instances of public distribution system (PDS) going haywire in the country were pointed out and it was highlighted that the benefit never reached the deserving people, Mishra said the ordinance had its checks and balances. "We know about cases of corruption in the PDS but will ensure through the ordinance to check this," he added.
Reacting to the criticism that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) had come out with the ordinance with an eye on the coming Lok Sabha elections, he said: "It is not so. The food (security) bill had been delayed by about two years because of the opposition by the BJP, which stalled the proceedings of the two Houses of Parliament on one pretext or the other."
He said the BJP was frustrated that its allies were pulling out, while the UPA was winning new partners.
'Hope there won't be CM pictures on cards'
Punjab Congress spokesman Sukhpal Singh Khaira said he hoped the state government would not put the picture of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on the blue identification card while implementing the national food security ordinance.