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Govt skips decision on food ordinance

The government is ready with an ordinance on the food security Bill but is still undecided on whether it should be moved immediately

Written by Swaraj Thapa | New Delhi | June 5, 2013 1:02:41 am

The government is ready with an ordinance on the food security Bill but is still undecided on whether it should be moved immediately or only after exploring the possibility of a special session of Parliament to try and get the Bill passed.

At the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday evening,a draft was ready in the hands of the officials but Prime Minister Manmohan Singh opted against bringing up the subject. One reason,sources said,could be Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar being short of time as he had to attend the inauguration of the new Maharashtra Sadan here by President Pranab Mukherjee. The Cabinet was scheduled at 5 pm and the state function was at 6 pm.

Government managers concede that any step on the food security ordinance cannot be taken without considering the views of the NCP chief,who has held reservations on the subject,particularly in the context of ensuring that the statutory scheme is made foolproof.

Having dealt with the subject earlier as food minister,he had voiced doubts on the extent to which the government could act in fulfilling the obligation of providing food security if the country had to face repeated drought

situations. However,there are also some divergent views within the Congress on effecting the next steps that would follow an ordinance,should a decision be taken to go ahead with it.

In the first scenario,the government would have to ensure that the ordinance is passed in the monsoon session of Parliament. As per the Constitution,the government is bound to seek parliamentary approval for the ordinance within six weeks of the first sitting of the next Parliament session.

On the other hand,the government can propose a special session of Parliament. Though the Left parties have opposed such a move,Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj has sounded positive towards the idea. On Tuesday she tweeted that her party was not opposed to a special session but it was against an ordinance. The option of a special session,according to UPA leaders,still allows them elbow room of pushing ahead with an ordinance if they fail to get the Bill passed in it.

Further the move makes it even more convenient as the government can put off convening the next session by six months under the provisions.

The special session,in other words,practically becomes the monsoon session and the government will have the elbow room of convening the next session in December. One view in the government is that it can then try to get parliamentary approval for the ordinance in January and in the event that it does not do so,go for the last step of dissolving the House three months ahead.

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