The Congress is learnt to have sent word to the Centre to raise the consultation bar on major issues with the party as well as allies before rushing with politically sensitive policy decisions.The advice comes in the backdrop of the fiasco over foreign direct investment (FDI) in the retail sector and the food bill, prompting perceptions that the government needs to hone its skills in taking along all shades of opinion.
Sources said the Congress president Sonia Gandhi had taken a dim view of the manner in which the Cabinet went ahead to discuss the food bill on Tuesday, only to realise that the agriculture minister Sharad Pawar was not on board.
In case of FDI in retail, the Cabinet had ignored concerns raised by the Trinamool Congress that eventually forced the UPA government to suspend implementation of the decision pending wider consultations.
The party leadership is also understood to be upset over disagreement between not just allies but also within party ministers on key issues.
Last week in the Rajya Sabha, the Centre had to face few embarrassing moments when the Opposition forced it to defer the bill to set up commercial divisions in high courts and didn’t allow the copyright act amendment bill to be introduced.
Pawar had criticised the food bill as an overly populist measure that could knock the government’s finances. The opposition came despite an inter-ministerial group addressing his concerns in its eight meetings.
Gandhi had overseen drafting of the bill, her pet project that stems from a poll pledge made by the Congress to guarantee food security.
With 15 ministers having aired their views on the food bill at Tuesday’s meeting, the remaining are expected to give their opinion at the Cabinet meeting on Sunday.