Food security bill ordinance deferred

Cabinet to consult Opposition in special session of Parliament

By Jitendra
Published: Thursday 13 June 2013

The cabinet deferred its ordinance on the implementation of the National Food Security Bill (NFSB) at a meeting held on Thursday. It plans to introduce the Bill at a special session of Parliament after consultation with opposition parties. The bill, if passed, will guarantee food and nutritional security by providing certain minimum foodgrains at subsidised rate  of Rs 1-3 per kilogram to close to 75 per cent of the rural population and 50 per cent of the urban population.

Demand for parliamentary debate

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) welcomed the government’s move to defer the ordinance but wondered the need for a special session. “We want discussion over the bill. But why do they want a special session? Why don’t they advance the monsoon session at the earliest,” asks M A Naqvi, BJP national spokesperson.

Right to Food activists, too, have opposed the ordinance route. “We want a full debate in the Parliament. They can do it through a special session or start the next session early,” says Dipa Sinha, a Delhi-based food rights activist.

Finance Minister P Chidambaram, after the Cabinet meeting, said the government has decided to try once more to get support of the Opposition. The Cabinet has entrusted Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath and Food Minister K V Thomas with the responsibility of meeting Opposition leaders to court their support of the Bill.

NFSB, the brainchild of United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi, was a part of the UPA manifesto in the 2009 elections. It was first introduced in the Parliament in December 2011. It was later referred to a Parliamentary standing committee that submitted its report on January 17  this year. The Bill was tabled during the recently concluded budget session in Parliament in May, but was left hanging after the Lok Sabha was adjourned sine die.

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