After much delay and uncertainty, the landmark Food Security Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on Monday which seeks to provide cheap foodgrains to 82 crore people in the country, ushering in the biggest programme in the world to fight hunger.
The ambitious bill was adopted by the House through a voice vote after a combined discussion on the measure and a statutory resolution seeking to disapprove the ordinance promulgated on July 5. Over 300 amendments moved by the opposition were rejected.
The legislation was passed after a day-long debate during which Congress President Sonia Gandhi, during her maiden speech in the 15th Lok Sabha, said "our goal for the foreseeable future must be to wipe out hunger and mal-nutrition from our country."
Significantly, Gandhi, who is the main force behind the bill, could not participate in voting as she fell ill during voting on amendments and had to leave the House at around 8.15 pm. She was later admitted in the AIIMS.
Her son Rahul too could not take part in the voting as he accompanied his mother to the AIIMS.
Earlier, Gandhi sought to allay concerns over the measure. "This legislation is only a beginning. As we move forward, we will be open to constructive suggestions; we will learn from experience," Gandhi said.
She said the approach of the UPA has brought in "an empowerment revolution in our country something we are proud to have facilitated."
Just before voting on the bill, Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj said BJP is supporting the legislation despite it being "half-baked and weak". She added, "we are waiting for the day when we come to power and we will be able to improve the law."
AIADMK was the only party to have opposed the bill.