New Delhi: Suspense mounted over whether the government will promulgate an Ordinance on Food Security as it appeared hesitant to take this route amidst differences within the Cabinet as well as opposition from some allies and other parties.
The government is keen on enacting this landmark law at the earliest but there are voices within it who disfavour the Ordinance route.
The bill, a pet project of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, 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.
There was speculation that the proposal to promulgate the Ordinance could be taken up at the meeting of the Union Cabinet this evening but no such discussion took place. "I cannot answer questions on what was not taken up by the Cabinet," Finance Minister P Chidambaram told reporters after the meeting when repeatedly asked about the Food Security Bill which is before Parliament.
"Food Security Bill was not brought before Cabinet. It is before Parliament," he insisted. Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said Congress was committed to provide food security to 80 crore Indians. "What will be its format and procedure are being decided. It is in the process. All options are open before the government in this regard," he said.
Sources said the Law Ministry has approved the Ordinance route but the Food Ministry, which is the nodal ministry for the Bill, was not in favour of this. Some others were also not supportive of this idea.
Making this clear, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said, "Ordinance should be the last resort."