New Delhi, Aug 20 (IANS) The government Tuesday said it will "try its level best" to secure the passage of the Food Security Bill in parliament.
The Food Security Bill, expected to be a game-changer for the ruling Congress ahead of five assembly polls this year-end and the 2014 general elections, aims to provide subsidised food grain at prices much below the market rate to around 67 percent of India's 1.2 billion people. The bill would thus benefit about 800 million people.
"We will be trying our level best to get the food bill passed. This will be a historical day. We are talking to everybody (all political parties)," Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajeev Shukla told reporters here.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said: "We will use all rules to ensure that the house runs."
Food Minister K.V. Thomas said he was confident of getting the legislation passed. "I am always a confident man. It is a very important bill."
The government is keen to secure passage of the food security bill, which is Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's pet welfare legislation, but is concerned over the large number of amendments (over 260) moved by opposition parties.
Both Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) have indicated their support for the bill, but have demanded certain changes in the legislation.
BSP supremo Mayawati said: "We support the bill as it is for the poor, but we want certain changes for which we will move amendments."
The bill, part of the Congress manifesto for the 2009 polls, is expected to bring it electoral benefits, just as the rural job plan did.
The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme is considered responsible for the second term that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) won in the 2009 polls.