After being weighed several times over for its financial implications, it was a safe landing for The National Food Security Bill, introduced in Parliament on Thursday by food minister KV Thomas without a glitch.
The bill to provide 63.5% of the people with subsidised grains comes with an escape hatch though: it will not apply in case of “force majeure conditions”, such as, war, flood, earthquake or “any act of God”.
For UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who personally oversaw drafting of the flagship social welfare legislation, the relief, however, was God-sent.
For most lawmakers, it was a crucial day because of the Lokpal Bill debate. For Gandhi, however, the task was cut out: getting the food bill tabled.
Gandhi, who has pushed the bill since it stems from a Congress poll pledge to fight hunger, appeared anxious since taking seat, her eyes looking out for Thomas twice.
Moments before the proceedings began, RJD chief Lalu Prasad walked up to Gandhi to protest the draft Lokpal Bill. The Congress chief was seen pleading Prasad with hands clasped to allow the food bill first, fearing a potential adjournment of the House.
Already, the food bill had replaced the Lokpal bill as the “number one” item on the legislative business agenda.
A day earlier while addressing the Congress Parliamentary Party, Gandhi was asked if she had thought about a New Year resolution. Pat came the reply: “Food for all.”
Just when she settled down hoping for a hitch-free tabling of the food bill, another bout of disruption became apparent. Gandhi appealed to Opposition members with folded hands again. Soon, the big moment came and went.