Union Cabinet did not take up for consideration the proposal

After an entire day of suspense on whether the government proposes to promulgate an Ordinance on the National Food Security Bill, the Union Cabinet did not take up for consideration a proposal to this effect moved by the Food Ministry.

According to sources there is no consensus on taking the Ordinance route for the food security Bill not only between various political parties but within the United Progressive Alliance as well.

Food Minister K.V. Thomas himself has been opposed to promulgation of an Ordinance and said that he would prefer a discussion in Parliament. The Ministry moved several amendments to the revised Bill that has been tabled in the Lok Sabha.

Asked about his view, Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh told The Hindu that for far-reaching social and economic legislation such as the Food Security Bill and the Land Acquisition Bill the Ordinance route should be the last resort. “The best would be to call a special session or take this up in the monsoon session of Parliament. If for some reason there is no option, only then should we go for the Ordinance route.”

“No decision has been taken on promulgating an Ordinance for food security,” Finance Minister P. Chidambaram told journalists. There is no official word, however, on when the Ordinance will be taken up by the Union Cabinet indicating that the proposal needs to be worked on.

The Food Ministry sources pointed out that the Law Ministry sent its approval for an Ordinance at 1 pm and directed the Ministry to prepare a Cabinet note for the meeting scheduled for 5 pm. The Ministry prepared the note complete with 80 photo copies. Mr. Thomas moved the Cabinet note with the proposal for “promulgation an Ordinance under article 123 (1) of the Constitution for National Food Security Bill.”

However, the note was not listed and obviously did not come up for consideration. There was speculation about discussion on an Ordinance in the UPA Coordination committee meeting on Monday too, but finally, the issue was not even discussed, sending conflicting signals about what the government and the Congress party want.

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