Food Bill not a political tool to win: Thomas

New Delhi: Confident of getting support of all sections of Parliament on Food Security Bill, Food Minister K V Thomas today said it is not a political tool which will be used by Congress to win 2014 general elections.

The National Food Security Bill is a pet project of UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and was part of the promises made in 2009 General Elections.

The bill, which is being vetted by the Parliamentary Standing Committee, aims to provide legal right over cheap foodgrains to 63.5 per cent of the population. "I would like to emphasise the point that this (Food Bill) is not a political issue. The Food Security Bill is not something that UPA government (wants to implement) to get again elected in the coming elections. This is an issue of every political party," Thomas said at an event here.

He also expressed confidence that the Bill will get support from all stakeholders and political parties. The minister further said that the government hopes to see passage of the Bill in the next session of Parliament and plans to implement the proposals by year-end.

Stressing that the government is trying to address starvation and malnutrition issues through this bill, Thomas said that "existing bill is not final" and the government is "open to accept reasonable and practical" suggestions.

On number of beneficiaries, the minister said much more "liberal view" would be taken on poverty figures, which would be a basis for deciding number of beneficiaries. Once the bill is implemented, Thomas said, the government`s food spend is expected to rise to Rs 1.12 lakh crore based on the 2011 census.