Government postpones ordinance on Food Security BIll

The government said that it will try to convince the opposition to pass the bill in the parliament.

NEW DELHI: In the face of a united opposition, the UPA government has today deferred a decision promulgating an ordinance to the National Food Security Bill.

The government said that it will try to convince the opposition to pass the bill in the parliament.

The government will try to secure passage of the legislation on food security in a special session of parliament after consulting the opposition parties, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said.

NDTV quoted Chidambaram saying: 'The Food Bill is ready. But based on the Opposition requests, we will call special session if the Opposition agrees.'

Food Minister K.V. Thomas earlier suggested that the government will take the ordinance route to bring in the National Food Security Bill, a legislation that Congress president Sonia Gandhi is pushing for.

The bill aims to provide subsidised foodgrain to around 67 percent of India's 1.2 billion people. Around 800 million people would thus get the subsidised grain, at an initial cost of around Rs.1.3 lakh crore.

It is seen as a big-ticket legislation of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, and could prove to be a game changer ahead of the 2014 general elections.

The ordinance will replace the bill which is in parliament, and will be tabled in the monsoon session of parliament in July-August, sources said.

In the past, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar has expressed his reservations on the bill, saying it would entail a huge subsidy burden on the exchequer and harm the interests of farmers.

Over the past few weeks, the government has weighed the pros and cons of an ordinance, and even considered convening a special session of parliament to pass the bill. BJP leader Sushma Swaraj had opposed a special session and had suggested advancing the monsoon session. (Agencies)

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