Going ahead with its "game changer" measure for next Lok Sabha polls, the Congress on Tuesday rolled out the ambitious food security scheme in three states -- Delhi, Haryana and Uttarakhand with party President Sonia Gandhi hailing the measure as "historic" and "unparalleled".
Unveiling the scheme by handing over food grain packets and Aadhar-based smart cards to 12 women beneficiaries in the capital, Gandhi lauded UPA government for bringing "revolutionary changes" in the life of common man but noted that the struggle is not yet over and a lot was still to be done.
"We made the (food security) scheme so that nobody remains hungry in the country and no one's child sleeps hungry. Giving food security in such a large scale is unparalleled in the world," she said.
The symbolism was not lost as the party went in for the launch of the scheme in the three Congress-ruled states on a day coinciding with the birth anninversary of Rajiv Gandhi notwithstanding the delay in the passage of the Food Security Bill in Parliament.
The measure failed to see the light of the day in Lok Sabha due to repeated disruptions by Oppostion parties for last few days over missing files relating to Coalgate and other issues.
Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Union Food Minister K V Thomas slammed Opposition for obstructing the passage of the Bill in Parliament. Thomas was in particular critical of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi accusing him of delaying the "right of food to people".
Dikshit said that scheme will be implemented in the state from September 1 and hoped the target of reaching it to 73 lakh beneficiaries in the state would be met by January next year.
The Bill, which has been the pet project of Sonia Gandhi who is also UPA Chairperson, is the biggest such scheme in the world with the government spending estimated at Rs 125,000 crore annually on supply of about 62 million tonnes of rice, wheat and coarse cereals to 67 per cent of population -- around 82 crore beneficiaries.
Under the scheme, the beneficiaries will have the right to get 5 kg foodgrains every month at highly subsidised rates of Rs 1-3 per kg.
Congress believes that the food security and direct benefit transfer scheme would be some sort of game changer for the party in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls on the line of MNREGA and farmer loan waiver schemes.
The loan waiver and MNREGA schemes were credited among other things for return of UPA to power in 2009. Partymen are pushing for early implementation so that the scheme is well in place by the time the next Lok Sabha elections are held.