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BW Businessworld

Food Ordinance Put On Hold

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Indian government on 13 June put on hold its plans to bring an Ordinance on Food Security in the face of opposition within and outside and decided to make another attempt to evolve a consensus to get it through in a special session of Parliament.
The proposal was deferred when it came up at the Union Cabinet meeting this morning with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh saying there was need to take parties along on this measure.
Congress sources said that it was Sonia Gandhi who impressed upon the Prime Minister the need to go for a consensus and pass it in a special session without rushing with an ordinance.
However, the government has not closed the option of resorting to promulgating an Ordinance if there is no consensus during the meetings it plans with Opposition on the issue.
After the hour-long Cabinet meeting, Finance Minister P Chidambaram told reporters that the government will make one more attempt to forge consensus with opposition parties on passage of the bill in a special session of Parliament. 
"The Food Security Bill is ready. We would like to pass it as a bill but Ordinance version of bill is also ready. We decided today that we would like to make one more effort to ask the Opposition parties whether they will cooperate in passing the bill in a special session of Parliament," Chidambaram said.
Significantly, ahead of the Cabinet meeting, Pawar, who is said to have reservations over the ordinance route for the measure, met the Prime Minister and is believed to have insisted that such a significant legislation should not be hustled through.
The Prime Minister also held separate discussions with senior colleagues including Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Defence Minister A K Antony and Food Minister K.V. Thomas on the desirability of Ordinance to implement UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi's pet scheme that seeks to provide cheap foodgrains to 67 per cent of country's population.
The government's decisions Thursday also had taken into account the reservations expressed by key outside ally Samajwadi Party.
Home Minister and Leader of the Lok Sabha Sushil Kumar Shinde, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath and Food Minister K V Thomas will meet opposition leaders to elicit their support, Chidambaram said.
Some Congress ministers are also said to be having reservations on the Ordinance route.