New Delhi, Sat Jul 13 2013;
AICC president Sonia Gandhi today asked chief ministers of Congress-ruled states to expeditiously implement the food security scheme in “letter and spirit” but the party said its proactiveness on the issue does not mean early polls. The measure, which is seen by the party as a “game changer” in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, was discussed threadbare as Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held deliberations with chief ministers of 13 Congress-ruled states on how to implement the scheme seeking to provide cheap foodgrains to 82 crore people, for which an ordinance was promulgated last week.
During the meeting, Gandhi asked the chief ministers to speedily implement the scheme in “letter and spirit” so that “nobody sleeps hungry”, party sources said. However, the party said its proactiveness on the issue does not mean early polls. “Don’t link this ordinance with the elections. We have been saying that the issue of food security should not be looked at from the prism of politics,” AICC general secretary and Communication Department in-charge Ajay Maken, who was also present in the meet, said. The meeting was held at a time when the party is preparing for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and is keen to reach out to the people with its populist measure.
The deliberations saw a number of AICC general secretaries and chief ministers raising concerns over poor condition of Public Distribution System (PDS), besides demands like making Essential Commodities Act more stringent to deter the defaulters. Chief Ministers from North East states cited the problems in carriage of foodgrains as an impediment to the effective implementation of the scheme.
The Prime Minister assured them that these and other such problems would be taken care of, the sources said. Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh pointed out the problem of carriage of the foodgrains in the hilly areas, while Mizoram Chief Minister Pu Lalthanhawla raised the issue of financial constraint before the state but not specifically related to food security, the sources said.