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Cong for food security and young corps
Vibha Sharma and Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

l 25 kg wheat or rice a month at Rs 3 a kg
l Enactment of national food security act
l Health security for all
l Steps for the welfare of defence forces
l Taking NREGA forward
l Comprehensive social security
l Broadband link to villages in 3 years

New Delhi, March 24
Releasing its manifesto for the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress today promised, among other things, a law ensuring 25 kg of rice or wheat per month to the poor at Rs 3 per kg.

Seeking to position itself as the party “best equipped” to deal decisively with the challenges of terrorism and economic recession, the Congress said it would pursue the “middle path” in the two fields if it was voted to power.

The manifesto was released by Congress president Sonia Gandhi in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other party leaders. Though the party failed to stitch up seat-sharing arrangements with its key allies in the UPA, the party patted itself on the back for the “tangible and visible” accomplishments of the Congress-led coalition during its five years in office.

The manifesto pledges even greater impetus to empowerment of weaker sections, minorities and women. It also proposes to launch a voluntary national youth corps for youth (18-23 years) to serve up to two years in constructive activities, for which they would also be suitably compensated.

But what has caught the imagination of the supporters of the party is its promise to enacting a National Food security Act that guarantees access to sufficient food for all, particularly the most vulnerable sections of the society. It is being considered as populist a step as was the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. Under the law, every BPL family, whether in rural or urban areas, would be entitled to subsidised rice or wheat. Subsidised community kitchens would also be set up in all cities for homeless and migrants with the support of the Union government.

The Congress, which extended interest relief to farmers, possibly sees the proposed food security act in the country of millions of food-insecure people as a potential vote-winner.

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