Cong leadership discusses food security bill, Telangana row

New Delhi: Amid talk of a special session of Parliament, Congress top brass on Saturday discussed the way ahead on UPA's ambitious food security bill in the wake of opposition's "uncooperative" attitude.
In an over three-hour-long meeting of Congress Core Group, chaired by party president Sonia Gandhi with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh by her side, the top leadership of the party deliberated in detail the options of calling a special session or taking the ordinance route.
The Food Security Bill and the Land Acquisition Bill are being seen as a gamechanger by the Congress as it braces for the next Lok Sabha elections, which are less than a year away, and it is keen on their early implementation.
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.
In the meeting, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, who has returned from Chhatisgarh visit, briefed the party leadership in detail about the May 25 Bastar Maoist attack and the measures taken by the government in the aftermath.
On the food security issue, 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 Prime Minister Manmohan 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.