Right to Food Campaign Friday slammed the Narendra Modi-led NDA government at the Centre for “doublespeak” on the issue of the National Food Security Act. Citing a letter Modi wrote on August 7, 2013 to former prime minister Manmohan Singh in which he had called for an increase in the monthly quota of grains, the activists accused the BJP of a U-turn on the matter after coming to power.
In his letter Modi had argued that the Bill proposing to reduce the entitlement of BPL families from 35 kg to 25 kg means that even the calorific need of an individual would not be met, leave along nutritional security. He had also questioned the logic of fixing the number of beneficiaries first and then asking states to formulate eligibility criteria accordingly. “I am... pained to note that the food Security Ordinance does not assure an individual of having two meals a day...” Modi wrote as the chief minister of Gujarat. Moreover, the BJP manifesto had spoken of a commitment to universal food security.
“It is unfortunate that all the critique of the UPA government on the issue of food security that BJP had done while in opposition now seem forgotten, as is the commitment in the manifesto. The Budget is silent on food security and there is no monetary allocation for maternity entitlements. When the Act was passed, Murli Manohar Joshi had moved an amendment for the inclusion of pulses and oil. All of that is now forgotten,” said activist Kavita Srivastav.
The campaign took exception to Jaitley’s Budget speech where he talked of targeted food subsidies and contrasted it with the Finance Minister’s own speech in Rajya Sabha as the Leader of Opposition where he had spoken of insufficient outlay for food security.
“BJP is following the same policy of benign neglect as P Chadambaram did in his last two budgets. It is a part of the government’s policy of killing the social sector with Budget cuts,” said Biraj Patnaik.