The government has gone on an overdrive to ensure the flagship food security bill is passed smoothly in the budget session of Parliament, as food minister KV Thomas held a series of meetings on Friday, including with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and finance minister P Chidambaram.
Hindustan Times had first reported, on January 17, that the government wanted to get the bill passed in the budget session.
The PMO will monitor the bill's progress leading up to its tabling in Parliament, an official said, requesting anonymity. Another meet at the Prime Minister's Office, to be held by the PM's principal secretary Pulok Chatterjee, is slated for January 30.
The bill, which stems from a Congress poll promise, is the second of two large entitlement-based welfare legislations of the UPA government.
The previous one, a popular rural pay-for-work scheme, helped propel the Congress-led coalition to a second term, analysts say.
"We want to introduce the bill in the last week of the first half of the budget session," Thomas told HT. This would give the government enough time - until the end of the session in mid-April - to pass it in both Houses.
The bill aims to give 67% of the population, or about 800 million Indians, a legal right to fixed amounts of monthly food handouts at less than half their market price.
Each entitled person will get 5 kg of rice, wheat or millets at Rs 3, Rs 2 and Rs 1 a kilo every month.