The government has readied its draft ordinance on food security, which is likely to come up for Cabinet consideration as early as Tuesday.
“The ordinance draft is ready. The party leadership will have to take a political call on whether to go ahead with the ordinance route or still explore the possibility of passing it in Parliament,” a source said after the UPA coordination committee informally discussed the issue.
“The food bill was not discussed but all options on how to move forward are open,” parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath said after the meeting that also discussed the situation arising out of the lethal Maoist attack on a Congress rally in Chhattisgarh on May 25, killing its top state leadership. The government has called an-all-party meeting later this week on the issue.
The food security bill — considered one of the flagship legislations of UPA 2 that seeks to provide cheap foodgrain to 67% of the country’s population – was taken up during the second half of the budget session but an unrelenting opposition did not allow its passage.
With its key ally Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) still not fully on board and outside supporter Samajwadi Party too opposed to the proposed bill, the government has been virtually forced to rethink its strategy of not adopting the ordinance route.
It is understood that NCP chief and agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, who has in the past publicly doubted the sustainability of a food security law without accompanying investments to match food output, voiced his reservations at Monday’s UPA meeting.
One of the proposals doing the rounds was convening a special session in the first week of July to pass food security and land acquisition bills but that did not find favour with the opposition and majority of non-UPA parties.
The BJP is not keen to have a special session which would allow only the government agenda and has, therefore, floated a counter proposal of advancing the monsoon session.
The all-party meeting on the naxal issue, likely on Saturday, will finalise a strategy to tackle the red terror decisively.
The refrain in the Congress is that since all parties by and large share a common view on fighting the naxals, a joint response could be decided to tackle the menace.