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Uncertainty over food bill passage as states prepare for Aug 20 roll-out

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Uncertainty over food bill passage as states prepare for Aug 20 roll-out
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New Delhi: The passage of the ambitious Food Security Bill in Parliament this week hangs in the balance despite Congress readying plans for its rollout in some of its states, including Delhi, from Tuesday, the birth anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi.

The shadow of Telangana has loomed large over the current Monsoon session which began on August five resulting in precious little business in the Lok Sabha while BJP plans to raise the coalgate issue this week in the back of latest revelations, party leaders say.

Congress appears determined on its passage in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, the birth anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi.

On Monday, the Lok Sabha is expected to adjourn soon after making an obituary reference to sitting member Dilip Singh Judeo of the BJP.

The food bill as also the land acquisition bill is being listed for consideration tomorrow and the day after. The two bills are seen as game changers by the Congress in the Lok Sabha polls ahead.

Minister of state for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shukla said that the government will try its level best for passage of the landmark food bill on August 20.

"We will try to resolve the matter through talks.... We will push it (the bill) hard on the 20th", he said.

Some Congress ruled states including Delhi have announced plans to roll out the measure from Tuesday to mark the former prime minister's birth anniversary.

But the agitating TDP MPs have no plans to give up their protest in the Well of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.

TDP MPs, fighting for "justice" to the Seemandhra region, had commenced their protests since the session began on August 5. "There is no way we can stop the protest. Otherwise, people will not excuse us", said Naramalli Sivaprasad, one of the MPs, adding that the TDP MPs will meet their party chief N Chandrababu Naidu in a day or two.

However, protests by the MPs have landed the government in a piquant situation. The opposition is insisting that there should be no passage of any legislation in the din and it is also not playing ball on the issue of suspension of the agitating members.

Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj has made it amply known to government that it would not be a party to the suspension of the members. She has appealed to the agitating MPs to shift the venue of their protests to near Mahatma Gandhi's statue.

Opposition leaders insist that the all-party meeting convened by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath last week was also of the view that no bill should be passed in din.

With hardly any work done in the last two sessions, Government had come up with an ambitious legislative agenda in this session including bills aimed at economic reforms to give a boost to the sluggish economy.

Government's patience is running out over the protests which was reflected in the Lok Sabha last week when the opposition accused Nath of getting angry over disruptions and saying such an attitude would not help in running the House.

Monsoon session is expected to conclude on August 30 amid indications that the government is open to the idea of extending it for a few days in view of the heavy agenda. The talk in Parliament circles is that Congress is apprehensive that any action against the agitating TDP MPs will send a wrong signal in the Seemandhra region, already upset over the decision on Telangana.

Speaker Meira Kumar's repeated appeals to the agitating MPs have gone unheard. She had called the TDP MPs of the Lok Sabha from Seemandhra region twice, but to no avail. Last week, the Lok Sabha could not take up discussion on the Food Security Bill for two consecutive days due to the disruptions. There was also talk at that time that Congress President Sonia Gandhi was set to be the first speaker from the ruling side to speak on the Food bill.

BJP leaders have given indications that the coalgate issue is likely to be raised by them this week in a big way in the wake of reports that not only files and records of applications for 45 coal blocks allocated from 1993 to 2005 are untraceable but also recommendations made for some coal blocks.

Coalgate issue had led to major disruptions in Parliament in the Budget session earlier this year with the BJP demanding resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

PTI

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