President Pranab Mukherjee signs food security ordinance
The measure is expected to be a game-changer for the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, coming ahead of the polls to five state assemblies this year-end, and the general elections of 2014.
The food security bill, one of the big-ticket welfare initiatives of the UPA and a pet project of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, is expected to provide subsidised food grains to around 800 million people.
This would entail an initial cost of around Rs 1.3 lakh crore to the government.
The government, which is in minority and is surviving on outside support, skipped a debate in parliament by issuing the ordinance, and invited the ire of the opposition parties who slammed the government for demeaning parliament.
While the step has sparked off speculation over early polls, some reports have also said the announcement was made as upcoming assembly polls may be announced soon and the model code of conduct would have created a hurdle, as it prohibits the government from announcing any big policy initiative that could impact voting.