Food ordinance: Opposition ready for debate

As Parliament convened for the Monsoon session on Monday, political parties indicated a willingness to debate the UPA’s showpiece food security ordinance, and are likely to press for key changes to the anti-poverty legislation.

The government had last month issued an ordinance —  a provision to enact laws when parliament is not in session — to give 67% Indians, or about 800 million people, the legal right to cheap food.

To continue as a permanent law, both Houses must approve the ordinance. The government will bring a Bill to replace the food security ordinance, possibly on Wednesday.

On Monday, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, whose support is crucial to the UPA government at the Centre, said, “If they promise that the farmers’ interests will not be ignored and (it would) be profitable (for farmers), then we can support the bill.”

The BJP and the Left parties are likely to move amendments demanding 90% coverage. The BJP is likely to cite its variant — the Chhattisgarh Food Security Act — to demand a clear exclusion criterion.

Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh had written to the PM on this in February.

“We favour a food security law that addresses nutritional needs… the prevailing public distribution system needs to be made robust,” BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said.


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