Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Saturday strongly backed the Centre's new Direct Benefit Transfer system that will ensure cash transfer directly in the hands of beneficiaries of various schemes, saying it is in line with many other "revolutionary" measures taken by the UPA.
Gandhi, who is also UPA chairperson, also announced her intent to bring the much-talked out Food Security Bill in Parliament soon to ensure that no poor family remains hungry.
She made the remarks while unveiling the Delhi government's ambitious food programme 'Annashree' under which monthly cash subsidy of Rs 600 will be transferred directly into bank account of the senior-most female member of two lakh poor families.
While hailing the scheme as the country's first totally Aadhar-based cash transfer programme, Gandhi chose the occasion to highlight the central government's Direct Benefit Transfer system, which will be implemented in 51 districts from January 1 facilitating cash entitlement in a total of 34 schemes.
"The purpose of this scheme is to ensure that the government's money being disbursed in pension, scholarship, MNREGA wage payment and social benefit schemes reaches the beneficiaries directly at their hands and without any delay. This money will reach directly into the hands of beneficiaries and not only up to bank accounts and post offices," Gandhi said.
The Congress president also made it clear that this cash transfer scheme is, however, not being implemented by the Centre in food and fertiliser subsidy programmes.
She said that the cash transfer scheme is envisaged on the basis of the ideology of balanced development of the UPA in which the welfare of the poor matters most.
Gandhi also hailed the Land Acquisition Bill which got the Cabinet's nod on Thursday, and announced that the much-talked about Food Security Bill will be brought in Parliament soon. Hailing the Annashree scheme, Gandhi said it is a reflection of the sympathy of UPA, Congress and the Delhi government for the poorest section of people on the issue of food security.
She said what strikes her most about this scheme is that money will go directly go into the hands of the women of the beneficiary families, which will boost their self-confidence and empowerment.
Noting that keeping in mind the ideology of balanced development, the UPA government under the leadership of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has come out with a number of "revolutionary" legislations like RTI, RTE, MNREGA, Gandhi said "recently a bill on land acquisition has been given the government's nod, which has been made keeping in mind the welfare of farmers and livelihood losers."
"We will soon bring a Food Security Bill in Parliament, which will ensure that all poor families in the country get foodgrains at proper price and no poor family has to remain hungry," she added.
While lauding the cash transfer scheme, Gandhi made it a point to stress that food and fertiliser subsidies have not been brought under the Direct Benefit Transfer system.
She also said that Delhi government's Annnashree programme, too, does not aim at substituting the public distribution system but to "increase" the number of beneficiaries and reach out to them, who have been left out by the PDS.
"There are many problems related to the BPL list. There are a number of needy and poor families, who are not included in these lists. This scheme will provide food security to those who have been left out in the BPL list for some reason or the other," Gandhi said.
She also hailed Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit and her government for instituting a number of schemes to ensure that the poor do not have to go hungry and hoped that the new scheme will be effective.