Cabinet withdraws ordinance, bill

Cabinet withdraws ordinance, bill

Reversing its earlier step, Cabinet today decided to withdraw the Ordinance as well as Bill that sought to give protection to convicted lawmakers in the wake of public outburst against it by Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi.

The Cabinet took the decision in a meeting of about 20 minutes which was chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The decision capped a day of hectic activities which included Rahul Gandhi meeting the Prime Minister which was followed by a meeting of Congress Core Group headed by party President Sonia Gandhi.

"The Union Cabinet unanimously decided that the Ordinance regarding certain aspects of the Representation of the People Act as well as the Bill (pending in Parliament) should be withdrawn," Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari told reporters.

The Cabinet had approved on September 24 the Ordinance which sought to negate the Supreme Court order of July 10 which ruled that any lawmaker would stand immediately disqualified if convicted by a court.

The overturning of the decision came in the wake of Rahul Gandhi's trashing of the Ordinance as "nonsense". He had said it should be "torn" and "thrown out".

Rahul Gandhi's public outburst was seen as undermining the authority of the Prime Minister who was on a visit to the US but the government finally toed his line.

The Ordinance was not signed by President Pranab Mukherjee as he too had reservations on it.

Government had resorted to the Ordinance route after it failed to get a Bill in this regard passed by Parliament during the Monsoon session which ended last month.

Tewari said an "appropriate motion will be moved at appropriate time when Parliament meets" for withdrawal of the Bill.

Explaining the reasons for reversing the decision, he said the government reconsidered the issue after Rahul Gandhi gave his opinion based on the "widest feedback".

He said the Prime Minister had articulated yesterday that "democracy is not a monolithic authority" and there can be reconsideration.

When pointed out that the government had earlier strongly justified the Ordinance, Tewari said he and several other ministers had defended it as it was their duty to defend a Cabinet decision.

He said the reversal of the decision shows that the government is sensitive to the wishes of the people.

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