Attacking Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the proposed Food Security Bill, to be presented in Parliament today on Wednesday, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi today said the bill, in its current form, will push the country toward "malnutrition".
Presented by Indian government, the food bill is one of Congress President Sonia Gandhi's special projects - it has been strongly defended by her partymen in Lok Sabha.
In a letter to the Prime Minister written on August 7, Modi claimed that the National Food Security Ordinance (NFSO) promulgated by the Centre, which is likely to be passed in Parliament as the Food Security Bill, has inherent flaws and deficiencies, since it fails to address both calorific and nutritional security of the poor.
"In a nation concerned about meeting nutritional requirements, it is a bill that will push the nation towards malnutrition. The proposed Food Security Bill will keep the poor hungry and snatch away his food," he said.
The Gujarat chief minister said that below poverty line families which get 35 kg of foodgrains at present, would henceforth get only 25 kg under the proposed Bill.
"Your PM's policy makers are not aware of commoners' plight, nor are they aware of their living conditions. That is why people from your government announce that we can get a meal for Rs 5 or Rs 12," Modi said.
"This mindset gets reflected in the Bill too. Prime Ministerji, you are an economist and the earlier you understand the economics of a poor man's meals, the brighter will be the possibilities of him getting food," he said in the letter.
"The most backward are not going to benefit from your bill. Instead, because of your new Food Security Bill, the below poverty line families are going to be burdened further," the Gujarat chief minister added.
"I have noted with deep concern that the ordinance proposes to reduce entitlements of below poverty line families from 35 kg of food grains per family to 25 kg per average family of five," Modi said in the letter.
Due to this 10 kg reduction, every family below the poverty line would be compelled to buy this quantity from the open market and under such inflationary pressures, such families would have to shell out an additional Rs 100, which would translate into an annual financial burden of Rs 1,000 per per family, he claimed.
Criticising the entitlement of 5 kg of grain per month per person Modi claimed the