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Providing food to poor is NOT wastage of money: Rahul

Last updated on: September 10, 2013 17:49 IST

Providing food to poor is NOT wastage of money: Rahul

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Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday attacked critics of the Food Security Bill which was passed by Parliament last week, saying money spent on providing meals to the poor cannot be called "wastage" of financial resources.

He said the legislation is aimed at removing hunger from the country by giving people right to food which is part of a series of landmark initiatives of the United Progressive Alliance government such as the Right to Information Act and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.

"Is providing food to people called wastage of money. The opposition says it is a wastage of money. We want the poor people of the country to stand on their feet," Gandhi said. The Congress vice-president was speaking at a function after handing over documents offering ownership rights to the first batch of residents of the resettlement colonies in Delhi.

The ambitious bill, expected to benefit 82 crore people in the country, is seen as a "game changer" by the Congress as it prepares to face general elections due in May next year.

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Image: Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

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The Bharatiya Janata Party had termed the Bill as a "gimmick" with an eye on elections though the party supported it. Some parties, including the UPA's outside supporter, the Samajwadi Party, had criticised the bill saying it will put additional financial burden on states.

A section of the corporate world has also slammed the Bill saying it will increase the financial burden on the government when the economy was going through a difficult phase.

"We are giving rights to people. Rights means guarantee of development. After the food security legislation, no body in the country will remain hungry," Gandhi said, defending the food security scheme.The bill was cleared by both houses of Parliament and it will become law once President Pranab Mukherjee gives assent to it.

In his address, Gandhi said that the UPA government has ensured inclusive growth by changing the development paradigm through a number of historic legislation like Food Security Bill, Right to Information Act and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.

"We have brought a number of legislation in the last 10 years which have changed the development paradigm. The aim of the legislations was to ensure rights to people," he said.

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Image: Labourers unload wheat from a tractor trolley at a wholesale grain market on the outskirts of Amritsar
Photographs: Munish Sharma/Reuters

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The Bharatiya Janata Party had termed the Bill as a "gimmick" with an eye on elections though the party supported it. Some parties, including the UPA's outside supporter, the Samajwadi Party, had criticised the bill saying it will put additional financial burden on states.

A section of the corporate world has also slammed the Bill saying it will increase the financial burden on the government when the economy was going through a difficult phase.

"We are giving rights to people. Rights means guarantee of development. After the food security legislation, no body in the country will remain hungry," Gandhi said, defending the food security scheme.The bill was cleared by both houses of Parliament and it will become law once President Pranab Mukherjee gives assent to it.

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Image: A supporter of India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party covered in a shawl attends a demonstration in New Delhi January 6
Photographs: Mansi Thapliyal/Reuters

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He said people living in villages across the country come to Delhi with a "dream" and the Congress wants to help them realise it. Gandhi also noted that all sections of people including those living in slums and resettlement colonies have contributed significantly towards making Delhi the "best city" in the country.

"If these flyovers are made, who has made them? If these roads are built, who has constructed them? Those living in the slum clusters and resettlement colonies have immensely contributed to the growth of the city. They have invested their blood and sweat in this," Gandhi said.

"When a person living in a village looks at Delhi, he sees a dream. Congress believes that this transition from villages to cities is not easy... the Congress party wants to fulfill that dream," he said.

Gandhi said Delhi welcomes people from across the country irrespective of their religion. "Delhi is not only the capital of the country, it symbolises thinking of the whole nation. It is now the best city in the country," he said.

In her address, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit termed Gandhi as Congress' future prime ministerial candidate who has a "vision" to take India forward. She also talked about hurdles being faced by her government in implementing various schemes and projects due to multiplicity of authorities.

"The day Rahul Gandhi becomes the prime minister, we would go to him and request him to make changes in the existing system. The systems will have to be changed to ensure speedy development of Delhi," she said.

At the function, Gandhi distributed certificates conferring freehold rights to residents of resettlement colonies which were developed almost 40 years ago. Officials said around 13 lakh families living in 45 resettlement colonies will be benefited by the government decision.

The resettlement colonies are situated in different parts of the city including Sriniwaspuri, Wazirpur, Satya Niketan, Janakpuri, Pankha Road and Madangir.


Image: A farmer covers himself with a shawl on a cold winter day outside a sugar mill at Morinda, in Punjab
Photographs: Ajay Verma/Reuters

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