But the other party leaders have described the scheme as "anti-farmer" and "half-cooked" to provide highly-subsidized food grain to millions of poor people.

Punjab's word carries a lot of meaning when it comes to food grain. Punjab alone contributes over 50 percent of the food grain to the national kitty despite being a small state with just 1.54 percent of the country's geographical area. The state led the Green Revolution in the country in 1950s and 1960s to make it self-sufficient in food grain production.

For Bathinda MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Sukhbir Badal's wife, the food security ordinance is a vote security ordinance of the Congress and just a political gimmick. She accused the UPA government of trying to woo the electorate in view of ensuing Lok Sabha polls with the half-baked food security ordinance.

Punjab Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia, Sukhbir Badal's brother-in-law, too criticized the centre's move, saying that the scheme was not a realistic one. But the Badal father-son duo has been describing the centre's scheme as a copy of Punjab's scheme. Badal claims that he is not opposed to the food security scheme but to the way it is being announced to attract votes.

To counter any impact of the centre's new scheme on foodgrain,  Badal has announced that the state's own scheme will now cover three million people soon instead of the 1.5-1.6 million it is now covering.

Punjab and Haryana have not only been demanding more storage  facilities, especially state-of-the-art silos where the food grain can be  stored in a better way, but have also been seeking the centre's intervention to move surplus stocks to states that badly need them. Both demands have been facing bureaucratic delays in implementation.

The centre's food security scheme aims to provide five kg of grain at Rs.1-3 per kg to 67 percent of India's population. It is expected to cost Rs.1.2 lakh crore ($22 billion) annually. The ordinance that has been promulgated for the purpose last month would have to be ratified by parliament within six months. Parliament's monsoon session begins on August 5.

(Agencies)

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