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India's ruling Congress party to roll out food security scheme next month


10:13, July 14, 2013

NEW DELHI, July 13 (Xinhua) -- India's ruling Congress party announced Saturday that it would roll out next month its flagship food security programme for the country's 800 million poor people or two-thirds of the population.

Congress party spokesperson Ajay Maken said the food security scheme would start on August 20 which is also the birth anniversary of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, the late husband of party chief Sonia Gandhi who had conceived the project.

"Sonia Gandhi, her son and party vice president Rahul Gandhi, and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh decided to launch food security programme on August 20. Over 800 million people will benefit from this," Maken told the media after a party meeting in the national capital.

He added: "Congress-ruled states will implement the food security scheme as soon as possible."

The food security programme aims at providing to the country's poor a kilo of rice at three rupees (six U.S. cents), wheat at two rupees (four U.S. cents) and millet at one rupee (two U.S. cents).

The scheme, which will ensure at least five kilograms of cheap grain every month to nearly 800 million poor people, is to apply to 75 percent of people living in rural India and 50 percent of urban population.

The National Food Security Bill was, in fact, passed by the Indian government through an executive order earlier this month, after it failed to get consensus in the parliament.

While critics say that the scheme is intended at "vote bank" politics with barely a year left for the next general elections, the Congress party claims the right to food will eliminate hunger.

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