PM to Speak on Missing Coal Files; Opposition Unites Against Food Bill

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By Karuna Chandwani | August 26, 2013 3:41 PM EST

The Central government has assured the Opposition that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will give a statement on the missing coal files on Monday in a bid to get its Food Security Bill passed within the Monsoon session. But on the same day the ruling party added another foe, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha, to the line of those opposing the bill.

All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) supremo Jayalalitha has now cleared the air that her nine MPs in the Lok Sabha will vote against the Food Bill on Monday.

The CM has charged the Congress of ignoring the amendments suggested by her party and as the legislation would not benefit her state, AIADMK will vote against the Bill.

Under the proposed Food Bill, there is a provision to allot 21.88 lakh tonnes of rice at 3 per kg to Tamil Nadu yearly and the rest 14.90 lakh tonnes will be given at a rate fixed by the Centre.

"This is not acceptable. It will be fair if the entire 36.78 lakh tonnes of (the state's annual quota of rice) was allotted at 3 per kg," Jayalalitha said in statement.

"If the Centre provided those 14.90 lakh tonnes of rice at its procurement price of 19.11, it will cast a burden on the state to an additional 1000 crore expenditure," she added.

Along with AIADMK, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Janata Dal United (JDU), even Congress external ally Samajwadi Party (SP) announced that they all wanted certain crucial amendments in the proposed Food Security Bill.

Political parties like the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the BJP have argued about the amount of food grains and price at which they will be distributed under the proposed Bill. The CPI-M claims that 12 states In India already supply up to 35 kg of rice, either free or for 2 per kg, in a month.

The Food Bill, if becomes an act, will provide 25 kg of food grains for 3 per kg in a month to nearly 70 percent of the Indian population.

And the UPA has always assured to hear out and consider amendments suggested by the parties. But it has been unsuccessful in bringing up even a single sound debate in the Lok Sabha due to regular disruptions over the Telangana issue by its own party leaders or over Robert Vadra's land deal or over the border incursions by neighbouring countries.

Out of more than 40 bills tabled in Parliament for the current session only a handful few have been passed by both houses.

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