The fate of UPA’s ambitious food security bill hangs in balance with the government and the Opposition having locked horns over the issue of Prime Minister’s statement in Parliament on the missing files related to the ongoing probe in the coal blocks allocation scam.
Though the government managers were hopeful of the bill being taken up for discussion and passing in the Lok Sabha on Thursday, the indications from the Opposition camp, particularly the BJP, did not appear to be bright.
The government continued back channel efforts to break the deadlock with parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath establishing contact with Janata Dal (United) president Sharad Yadav. The return of normalcy in Parliament will, however, depend on the outcome of BJP leaders meeting on Thursday.
On the record, both camps appeared to be hardening their positions with the government outrightly rejecting the opposition demand for the Prime Minister’s statement.
“The minister concerned (coal minister) has already made a statement. The BJP’s demand is not reasonable……..It is not a case of missing files. The files need to be traced. The coal ministry has to find out,” said the minister of state in the PMO V Narayanasamy.
“How can the Prime Minister come and speak on it? These are 10-year old files. They are working on it,” he said.
The BJP and the CPI(M) remained unconvinced. “If the Prime Minister doesn’t speak, it will be a sad day for democracy. After the PM speaks, the Houses can take up the food security bill,” leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley said.
The Congress core group met in the evening to take stock of the situation, in which coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal explained the entire issue.