UPA undecided over special House session on food bill

UPA undecided over special House session on food bill

 The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) coordination committee on Monday failed to decide whether to hold a special session of Parliament or promulgate an ordinance on the Food Security Bill.

The committee instead deliberated at length on the Maoist menace in the wake of the ultras ambushing a Congress convoy in Chhattisgarh recently. It agreed to convene an all-party meeting to discuss the issue. However, a date for the meeting is yet to be decided.

After Monday’s meeting at the prime minister’s 7 Race Course Road residence, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath told reporters: “All options on the Food Security Bill and how to go ahead with it are still open. We will be considering them in the days to come.”

Nath’s statement indicated that the UPA partners are taking time to decide on the bill.

Congress spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed said the party wanted to bring in the Food Bill. It was for the government to decide on the course of action. “We do hope that the government will try to evolve a consensus,” he added. Sources in the party, however, did not rule out chances of convening another coordination committee meeting soon.

The Samajwadi Party (SP), a key UPA ally, has expressed reservations over the Food Security Bill, which aims to provide 67 per cent of the population with 5 kg of food grain at Rs 1-3 per kg through ration shops. The party called it “anti-farmer.”

“The day the bill is implemented, farmers will not get proper dues for their produce,” SP leader Naresh Agarwal said. “The SP opposes this bill as it is anti-farmer.”

The government has to get the numbers in both Houses to pass the bill. Other political parties like the Left Front and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) are also opposed to the fundamentals of the bill. “There should be discussions on it and important amendments moved by the party should be seriously considered,” CPM leader Brinda Karat told reporters.

“Will this be the right time for the UPA government to rush through a major issue like the Food Security Bill, particularly when the general election is knocking at the door and that too, without a full-fledged implementation mechanism in place?” questioned West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee.

Announcing the decision to convene an all-party meeting on the Maoist issue, Kamal Nath said: “It is an attack on the system, attack on the very foundations of democracy, which needs to be addressed. This incident affects our democracy and our parliamentary norms. Hence a discussion with all is needed so that a strategy can be formed to resolve this problem for ever.”

The meeting was chaired by Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Finance Minister P Chidambaram, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah and IUML chief E Ahamed were present. 

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