New Delhi: In a bid to evolve a consensus on Food Bill, Food Minister K V Thomas on Thursday held consultations with key ministers ahead of a crucial Cabinet meeting on Sunday, apprising them of the salient features of the proposed law.

The day began with Thomas, who holds the independent charge of the Food Ministry as Minister of State, drove to Union New and Renewable Energy Minister Farooq Abdullah and apprised him of the salient features of the Bill.

A decision on the Food Bill was deferred in the Cabinet meeting held earlier this week following differences among the UPA partners.

Sources privy to the meeting said Abdullah had appreciated the efforts of the minister for seeking to bring in a consensus ahead of the Cabinet meeting.

Thomas later called on Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and Science and Technology Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, both from Maharashtra, and Corporate Affairs Minister Veerappa Moily, sources said.

Thomas, who is a special invitee to the Cabinet meeting, is expected to meet other Cabinet ministers tomorrow.

Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar was among the front ranking ministers, who opposed the Bill citing increased subsidy bill for distribution of ration at Rs 2 (wheat) and Rs 3 (rice) to poor as proposed in the draft Bill.

Another important partner in the UPA, Trinamool Congress wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking more time to discuss the Bill minutes before last Cabinet meet.
If the Bill is implemented, the food subsidy bill is expected to rise to about Rs 95,000 crore from the existing Rs 63,000 crore while the foodgrains requirement would go up to 61 million tonnes from 55 million tonnes.