The United Progressive Alliance will decide its strategy on Monday on the ambitious food security bill amid talk of a special session of Parliament.
It was made known after Congress top brass including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and party Chief Sonia Gandhi at an over three-hour-long meeting in New Delhi discussed the options of calling a special session or taking the ordinance route in the wake of opposition's "uncooperative" attitude.
Other matters like the issue of government formation in Jharkhand are also expected to come up at the meeting of the United Progressive Alliance coordination committee, the first after the just concluded ninth anniversary of the alliance.
Recently the UPA ally Nationalist Congress Party had said that such an immediate interaction was the need of the hour. The meeting will provide an opportunity to the Congress top brass to understand the mind of the allies on the food security bill and the land acquisition bill, which are being seen as a game changer by the Congress as it braces for the next Lok Sabha elections.
In the core group meeting on Saturday, it was decided that Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath will speak to other political parties and if they agree, a special session may be convened to take up the bill, sources said. Otherwise the government may decide to bring out an ordinance on the food bill, a key commitment of the UPA.
The meeting took place a day after Dr Singh accused the Opposition of playing "obstructionist" role in Parliament and made a fresh appeal to the political parties to help the government clear important legislation.
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, who has returned from Chhattisgarh visit, briefed the party leadership in detail about the May 25 Bastar Maoist attack and the measures taken by the government in the aftermath.
With Telangana issue returning to haunt the Congress, the core group meeting also took a view of the political situation in Andhra Pradesh, where its two MPs and senior leader K Keshava Rao decided to leave Congress and join Telangana Rashtriya Samiti.
The vexed issue of a separate statehood in Andhra Pradesh has been troubling the party for long and the state is divided on regional lines on the Telangana demand. Andhra Pradesh is the one of the few major states where the party is power on its own and a good showing is crucial for it in the general elections due next year. Sources said that a final decision on Telangana is yet to be taken.
On the food security bill, the UPA meet will examine all the options of calling a special session, bringing an ordinance or introducing the measure through an executive order or wait for the next monsoon session. Sources said that a decision on it will be taken on Monday. Party leaders have been maintaining that the government will have to take an early decision on food security and see the measure through despite the opposition's attitude as it’s a major exercise for the UPA that has to be completed before the next Lok Sabha polls.
Jharkhand was brought under President's rule in January this year for the third time since its formation 12 years ago. The President’s rule was imposed there the same month after Chief Minister Arjun Munda of the BJP resigned as his government was reduced to a minority when the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha withdrew support to it.
In the assembly, the BJP and JMM have 18 members each. The Munda government had the support of six members of All Jharkhand Students' Union, two of the Janata Dal-United, two Independents and one nominated member who has voting right in a trial of strength.
Opposition Congress has a total of 13 members, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-P, (11), and Rashtiya Janata Dal (5) in the assembly. The Communist Party of India-Marxist Leninist, Marxist Coordination Party, Jharkhand Party (Ekka), Jharkhand Janadhikar Manch and Jai Bharat Samta Party have one member each besides an independent.
The state leadership of the Congress is keen to form a government with the JMM. However, the Congress central leadership particularly party chief Sonia Gandhi was not inclined for any hasty tie-up.
There have been fresh efforts recently by the state leaders of both parties to form government but a decision by the Congress high command is awaited.