New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday rolled out the ambitious and "game-changer" food security scheme in Delhi, Haryana and Uttarakhand after party leaders attacked Narendra Modi and the opposition for the delay in passage of the bill in Parliament.
Unveiling the scheme by handing over food grain packets and Aadhar-based smart cards to 12 women beneficiaries in the capital, she lauded the UPA government for bringing "revolutionary changes" in the life of common man. But, she noted that the struggle is not yet over and a lot was still to be done.
"We made the (food security) scheme so that nobody remains hungry in the country and no one's child sleeps hungry. Giving food security in such a large scale is unparallelled in the world," she said.
The party timed the launch of the scheme in the three Congress-ruled states coinciding with the 69th birth anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi on a day the opposition scuttled the consideration of the measure to replace the ordinance.
Interestingly, Union food minister K V Thomas unleashed an attack on Modi over his letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh attacking the food security measure.
"Opposition parties are not taking a positive attitude. Last week, we got a letter from the Gujarat chief minister. What is the purpose? The purpose is to delay the right of the people. Modi, who wants to become the next Prime Minister, is delaying this right of the people for food," he said.
Thomas said that consultations were already held with the states.
Dikshit also took potshot at the opposition parties saying they have a habit of opposing all the good initiatives of the government. "The opposition is not allowing the passage of the bill but Congress is committed to getting it passed," she said.
Dikshit said that scheme will be implemented in the state from September 1 and hoped the target of reaching it to 73 lakh beneficiaries in the state would be met by January next year.
The bill, which has been the pet project of Sonia Gandhi who is also UPA chairperson, is the biggest such scheme in the world with the government spending estimated at Rs 125,000 crore annually on supply of about 62 million tonnes of rice, wheat and coarse cereals to 67 per cent of population — around 82 crore beneficiaries.
Under the scheme, the beneficiaries will have the right to get 5 kg foodgrains every month at highly subsidised rates of Rs 1-3 per kg.
Congress believes that the food security and direct benefit transfer scheme would be some sort of game-changer for the party in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls on the line of MNREGA and farmer loan waiver schemes.
The loan waiver and MNREGA schemes were credited among other things for return of UPA to power in 2009. Partymen are pushing for early implementation so that the scheme is well in place by the time the next Lok Sabha elections are held.
However, ever since the bill was introduced in Lok Sabha on August 7 to replace the National Food Security Ordinance 2013, it could not be taken up with the opposition parties disrupting the proceedings on different issues.
The bill was to be taken up today for consideration but it could not happen as the Opposition disrupted the proceedings on the issue of the missing files of coalgate.