For the first time in nine years, Congress president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi intervened during the discussion on the National Food Security Bill. She spoke in Hindi from a prepared text. She said that the food bill was a moral imperative.
“Questions were raised whether we have the means to implement this programme. It is not a question of whether we have the means. We have to create the means,” she said.
“It is our responsibility to take care of the less fortunate part of the population,” she argued, saying that economic growth has spread prosperity and that there are sections that have been left behind need to be protected.
She said there is need to get back to the high growth trajectory. She pleaded that this was an historic opportunity for the House to do something for the poor people who send their representatives to parliament, and that the bill should be passed unanimously.
The latter part of her speech was in English, and this too she read out from a prepared text. She said that under the leadership of the prime minister Manmohan Singh the UPA has wrought a “revolution of empowerment” through enabling laws like Right To Information, Right to Education, forest rights for those dependent on their livelihood on the forests, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.
While the first part of the speech which was in Hindi stuck a high moral note, in the English part of her speech she descended into the pit-stop of electoral politics.
The Congress benches were packed and even the rest of the Opposition parties listened to her speech in silence, out of curiosity as well grudging respect for her political sincerity.