The United Progressive Alliance government's proposed Food Safety Bill is nothing more than a vote catching tool for the Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Kirit Somaiya said on Saturday.
Because of negligence on the part of the government, food grains worth Rs 58,000 crore go waste in the country every year. There is a lack of planning and adequate storage facility for food grains, he said.
"It is very unfortunate that at on one hand, children are dying of malnutrition in tribal areas of Maharashtra and on the other hand, paddy stocks worth crores are lying in the open. Who will take the responsibility for this," he asked.
The former Lok Sabha Member of Parliament from Mumbai was speaking to reporters after visiting some paddy procurement centres run by the Tribal Development Corporation near Gondia in Eastern Maharashtra.
"The proposed Food Safety Bill of the Congress is their Vote Safety Bill in real sense. A government unable to prevent loss of foodgrains worth crores every year is talking of food safety for the poor. They should first make efforts to create adequate storage space for food grains," Somaiya said.
The landmark legislation aims at giving legal right over a uniform quantity of 5 kg food grains at a fixed price of Rs 1-3 per kg via ration shops to 67 per cent of the population.
Main Opposition BJP has earlier stated that it supported the Food Bill in principle.
"The paddy lying in open gets completely destroyed and it is not fit for even consumption by animals. The Congress- Nationalist Congress Party government (in the state) is influenced by the liquor lobby and that is why they are not serious about taking steps from preventing the food grains from rotting," Somaiya alleged.
"I have visited seven states and more than 55 procurement centres in states like Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan and Odisha besides Maharashtra. Among these, Maharashtra has the worst storage facilities," he alleged.
On the growing Naxal menace in the region, the BJP leader said since it was a national problem, there should be no politics over it. All parties should come together to formulate a comprehensive and strong anti-Naxal policy, he said.
Blasting Maharashtra's Congress-led coalition government, Somaiya said it is "neck deep" in corruption and this has halted the growth of the state.