FSB: Sonia upset over missing Aug 20, is she also over falling rupee?

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New Delhi, Aug 21: Congress president Sonia Gandhi is reportedly upset for her pet Food Security Bill could not be introduced on Tuesday, the 69th birth anniversary of her late husband Rajiv Gandhi, owing to the Opposition's uproar over the missing files in the coal ministry.

Reports said that the party chief was disappointed with her party managers and the government for failing to predict the storm over the missing Coalgate files and sought a reply on why no measures were taken from before to tackle the situation. Sources added Gandhi had an emotional reason to feel upset for she had hoped to introduce the bill on her husband's birthday.

Is emotion appealing more to the Congress chief than the harsh realities that the country is facing at the moment? She isn't seen expressing disgust or anger over the falling price of the rupee but the fact that her government missed a date. What are the priorities of the country's ruling coalition?

Assuring food security of the poor could have been a noble idea, if the policy was carried out with care and precision. The UPA government decided to push the bill at the fag end of its tenure, which makes Sonia Gandhi's assurance that no poor will be left hungry sound hollow. There is no guarantee that her party will be in power when the effect of the policy will be witnessed and if the massive subsidies leave an adverse effect on the economy, there could be some other leader at the helm to deal with the impact. For a sinking regime, the food bill is a stroke that won't harm its cause.

The government is stressing cheap food at a time when the rupee is tumbling and very soon we are set to see inflation heading north. For gaining the immediate blessings of the two-thirds of the country's population, the government is caring little for the long-term impact. If Sonia Gandhi is really so worried about the hungry poor, then why didn't the government led by her party work on improving the buying capacity of those poors who it aims to feed freely now? Like the rural job scheme, which was considered a trump card of the UPA I, did a beleaguered Sonia thought the food bill could be a last-minute magic working for the UPA II?

Symbolism doesn't help the common man anymore but the Congress leaders, who feel polls are not won in social media, fail to understand this. A bill for the poor's feeding introduced on a late Gandhi's birth anniversary was considered such a happy occasion by the UPA II top brass. How much more detached can the leaders be from the reality?

In New Delhi

Congress President Sonia Gandhi gestures as she presents National Food Security Card to an old woman during the launch of Food Security Programme in Delhi, at Talkatora Stadium in New Delhi on Tuesday. Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit is also seen.

In New Delhi

Congress President Sonia Gandhi speaks during the launch of Food Security Programme in Delhi, at Talkatora Stadium in New Delhi on Tuesday.

In New Delhi

Congress President Sonia Gandhi gestures as she presents National Food Security Card to an old woman during the launch of Food Security Programme in Delhi, at Talkatora Stadium in New Delhi on Tuesday.

In New Delhi

Women beneficiaries showing National Food Security Cards presented to them by Congress President Sonia Gandhi (unseen) during the launch of Food Security Programme in Delhi, at Talkatora Stadium in New Delhi on Tuesday.

In New Delhi

Congress President Sonia Gandhi with Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit during the roll out of Food Security Programme in Delhi, at Talkatora Stadium in New Delhi on Tuesday.

In New Delhi

Congress President Sonia Gandhi waves during the launch of Food Security Programme in Delhi, at Talkatora Stadium in New Delhi on Tuesday.

Food Security Bill: A look

1. Delhi is one of first states to launch the Food Security Bill. Sonia Gandhi launched the programme in Delhi on August 20, the 69th birth anniversary of late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. She said the legal right to food security is "unparalleled" in the entire globe.

2. The bill aims to provide cheap staple food to two-thirds of the nation's population.

3. Sonia Gandhi said the existing public distribution system (PDS) has several shortcomings and the food bill has attached importance to reforms in the PDS.

4. The bill is yet to be passed by the Parliament. The Delhi government launched it on the basis of an ordinance passed in June.

5. The bill aims at empowering the women. It will entitle the eldest woman (above 18 years) in the family to be head of the household on the issue of ration cards.

6. Every pregnant woman and lactating mother will get free meal during pregnancy and six months after the child birth.

7. Over 7 million people will get foodgrain at highly subsidised rates in Delhi. The programme will come into effect on September 1 and benefit to 3.2 million people in the first phase.

8. The beneficiaries will be get a fixed amount of foodgrain at Rs 3 a kg for rice and Rs 2 a kg for wheat.

9. India will join select league of countries in the world that guarantee food to majority of its people.

10. At Rs 1,25,000 crore of government support, India's food security programme will be the largest in the world.

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