BJP won’t oppose Food Bill, but will seek amendments

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Terming the ordinance promulgated by union Cabinet to implement Food Security Bill as a “cruel joke” on democracy, Bharatiya Janata Party president Rajnath Singh on Saturday said his party would not oppose the passage of the bill in Parliament but seek amendments to it.

“We will not oppose it (the Bill) in the forthcoming monsoon session of parliament but want certain amendments in it,” Mr. Rajnath told reporters after meeting RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat at the sangh headquarters here.

However, he did not elaborate what amendments BJP was proposing.

Questioning the delay in bringing the bill, Mr. Rajnath said, “Why the UPA-led Congress government took so long in passing the bill and that too through the ordinance route even though it had promised to bring the Bill within 100 days of coming to power after 2004 elections”.

The scheme aims at providing 5 kg grain per person per month to 67 per cent of the country’s population at the rate between Re 1 and Rs. 3 per kg. The scheme is likely to benefit 800 million people and the government will have to spend Rs. 1,25,000 crore on the scheme, making it the biggest food security programme in the world.

After the Cabinet approval on Wednesday, President Pranab Mukherjee signed the ordinance on Friday.

“What was the hurry in bringing the ordinance on the bill when the monsoon session of Parliament is round the corner…Taking the ordinance route is nothing but a cruel joke on democracy,” Mr. Rajnath said.

To a query on whether BJP will stall the monsoon session, Mr. Rajnath shot back, saying “we did not stall it”.

“Congress should only be held responsible for disruptions in Parliamentary proceedings,” he said.

“It’s a routine meet”

Downplaying his visit to the Sangh headquarters, which came close on the heels of the visits by veteran leaders L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, Mr. Rajnath said he held routine discussion with Mohan Bhagwat and nothing much should be read into it.

Meanwhile, Mr. Singh refused to comment on the statement by BJP general secretary and in-charge of Uttar Pradesh affairs, Amit Shah on building a “grand” Ram temple in Ayodhya.

“I have not heard his (Amit Shah’s) statement,” Mr. Rajnath told reporters.

He alleged that Congress was adopting the British Policy of divide and rule and playing politics on the lines of caste and religion.

During his maiden visit to Ayodhya today, Mr. Shah said “I have also prayed that we together build a grand Ram temple here as soon as possible and restore Lord Ram to his rightful place”.

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