Mumbai: Making it clear that he was not opposed to the National Food Security Bill, Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Friday said he would prefer it to be approved by Parliament after a debate. "I am in favour of approving the food bill through discussion in Parliament, which is the highest forum," he told reporters.
Pawar, who had earlier voiced apprehension that huge concessions on foograins could endanger food security and harm the interests of farmers, said everybody in the government wanted it to be "cleared, approved and implemented." "The issue is how...whether through ordinance or debate in Parliament. I am not opposed to the bill," he said.
"The Opposition is also not against the food bill. They want something more and discussions are on," he said. He, however, said to maintain consistency in food security, thrust should be on improving production, greater investment in agriculture, and adequate availability of power and fertilizer.
Asked what would be his stand if Congress was insistent on promulgating an ordinance in this regard, Pawar said, "Such decisions are taken collectively." The bill, considered by many in the Congress as a gamechanger which could boost its prospects in the Lok Sabha election, was tabled in the Budget Session but could not be taken up for discussion as Opposition stalled Parliament over a rash of scams under UPA.
There were indications on Thursday that the much-talked about legislation may be brought before Parliament in the Monsoon Session. The Food Ministry, the nodal department for implementation of the proposed law, itself was said to be not in favour of an Ordinance to implement the food security law. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath was having talks with all concerned on the way the Bill, which seeks to provide 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, should be brought before Parliament.