Govt bows to Rahul tirade

Govt bows to Rahul tirade

The fate of the controversial ordinance giving immunity to convicted lawmakers from disqualification is virtually sealed with the Union Cabinet all set to withdraw it.

There were enough indications from the Congress that the proposed ordinance negating the July 10 Supreme Court judgment will be withdrawn following the diktat of party vice-president Rahul Gandhi.

The Congress refrain was that the party line laid down by Rahul was supreme and it hoped that would be taken into consideration when the Union Cabinet would meet to decide the fate of the ordinance.

Rahul had famously said that the government decision to promulgate the ordinance was “complete nonsense” and “should be torn up and thrown away.”

However, the withdrawal of the ordinance, referred to President Pranab Mukherjee for assent a week back, is not expected to be a smooth affair with Congress allies making their displeasure known on the matter.

Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Farooq Abdullah’s National Conference had given calls for convening a meeting of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Coordination Committee to discuss Rahul’s public criticism of the decision of the Cabinet.

“Rahul Gandhi as vice-president is free to say anything to the Congress party. But, the government headed by Manmohan Singh is not a Congress government. It is a UPA government and I am sure Rahul Gandhi knows that we are his allies and not his followers,” NCP general secretary D P Tripathi said.

A Union minister also said that the Cabinet meeting convened on Wednesday evening to discuss the fate of the ordinance could witness some plain speaking by ministers of the ally parties – Pawar, Abdullah and Ajit Singh.

The Cabinet meeting has only one item on agenda—to decide the future of the ordinance.

The Cabinet note seeks the direction of the Cabinet on whether to “await the promulgation of the ordinance by the President; or to withdraw the proposed ordinance” and await the recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Representation of the People (Second Amendment and Validation) Bill 2013.

Ahead of the Cabinet meeting, Rahul is expected to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the morning to explain his remarks. This will be followed by a meeting of the Congress core group chaired by party chief Sonia Gandhi.

It is not immediately clear whether Rahul will also be invited to attend the core group meeting. Congress sources claimed that Rahul was unaware of the government move to promulgate an ordinance and hence decided to go public with his strong views.

They said he had already made his views loud and clear which had resulted in the decision to refer the Representation of the People (Second Amendment and Validation) Bill 2013 to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice for examination.
Defence Minister A K Antony and Finance Minister P Chidambaram are unlikely to attend the meeting. While Antony is recuperating from surgery at Army Hospital, Chidambarm is in Jammu and Kashmir .

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