New Delhi: A day before the Cabinet considers issuing an Ordinance to implement government`s ambitious National Food Security Bill, Food Minister K V Thomas on Wednesday said all UPA allies, including NCP, are on board and there was a consensus on issuing an ordinance.
The Food Security Bill, a pet project of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, was tabled in the Budget session of Parliament but could not be taken up for discussion due to pandemonium in the Lok Sabha over various scams. However, government is keen on issuing an Ordinance for early implementation of the Bill.
"A political call has been taken on this (bringing an Ordinance to Food Bill). This is an important legislation. Discussions have been made at different levels and there is consensus. The Bill is coming for discussion before the Cabinet tomorrow," Thomas said.
Asked if all allies especially NCP are on board on this issue, Thomas said: "Everybody in UPA government are together for Food Bill Ordinance."
NCP leader and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had earlier aired reservations on bringing an Ordinance to Food Bill. However, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is believed to have discussed with Pawar and cleared all his apprehensions.
The Bill aims to give legal rights to 67 per cent of the population over a uniform quantity of 5 kg foodgrains at a fixed price of Rs 1-3 per kg through ration shops.
On Opposition`s criticism that the government is simply hurrying to implement the Bill without proper discussion in Parliament, Thomas said, "In the last two sessions, (even) Question Hour was not allowed to function in Parliament. It was (a) very sad situation. We have to go ahead...
"It is one of the reasons that we have taken the Ordinance route so that we can initiate groundwork for smooth implementation of the Bill."
Emphasising that the Food Bill is a political commitment of the UPA government, the Minister said, "In 2009, then President had made a statement on Food Bill in Parliament. It is a political commitment, we have to tell people that we are serious about the Bill."