New Delhi: The Congress party, impatient over the delay in arriving at a consensus over the proposed food security law with other parties, has switched its strategy again on it marquee legislation and now wants the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government to issue an ordinance.

The cabinet is likely to meet on Wednesday to approve the ordinance as the party’s attempts to gain backing for parliamentary approval haven’t met with success.

“A cabinet meeting has been called for Wednesday and clearing the ordinance is on its agenda as of now," a top food ministry official said on condition of anonymity.

The ruling party, which is in election mode, recently recast its organizational structure and inducted more ministers, keeping regional and caste equations in mind.

Although Congress president Sonia Gandhi, the main force behind the proposed food law, has been keen on getting the legislation cleared as early possible, the cabinet on 13 June decided to explore the possibilities of calling a special parliamentary session or advance the monsoon session to pass the Bill.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also directed parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath, food minister K.V. Thomas and home minister and leader of the Lok Sabha Sushilkumar Shinde to engage with opposition parties to build a consensus over the proposed legislation.

“The talks, however, have not been successful and time is running out. Both the Congress president and vice-president Rahul Gandhi are keen to see that the legislation is implemented as early as possible," said the person cited above.

The Congress expects the draft law that seeks to provide subsidized foodgrain to 67% of the population to be a vote winner along with the cash transfer for subsidies. The UPA, which returned to power with an impressive number of seats in 2009, has been mired in a series of scandals since then, eroding its popularity.

Opposition parties as well as key ally and agriculture minister Sharad Pawar have opposed the government’s move to issue an ordinance for what it says is a key legislation. Although the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) agrees with the objectives of the proposed law, it has reservations over an administrative fiat. The Left parties criticized the current form of the legislation, saying it will not address the issues of malnutrition and infant mortality.

The legislation, when implemented, will increase the government’s food subsidy to 1.25 trillion a year from 85,000 crore in the year to March.

D. Raja, a leader of the Communist Part of India, reiterated the opposition of the Left parties to an ordinance.

“Food minister and agriculture minister were both against the ordinance route. Now what has changed their mind?" he said. “The Left has clarified that the ordinance route is not acceptable to us. Such an important legislation cannot be implemented through an ordinance. We want the legislation but drastic amendments are required in its current form for which debate is essential."

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