Cabinet says no to ordinance route for anti-graft bills

Rahul wanted to show it as UPA's feat

Cabinet says no to ordinance route for anti-graft bills

The Centre on Sunday shelved its plans to promulgate ordinances on key anti-corruption legislation, which Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi wanted to showcase as the UPA government’s achievement to curb graft.

A Union Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh discussed bills which included amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Right of Citizens for Time-bound Delivery of Goods and Services Bill. It is learnt that President Pranab Mukherjee had raised doubts over signing a slew of ordinances ahead of the polls. 

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Law Minister Kapil Sibal met Mukherjee, who is learnt to have counselled the government to adopt the ordinance route only in absolutely critical situations.

Defence Minister A K Antony, with Shinde and political secretary to Congress president Ahmed Patel, also held deliberations with the prime minister ahead of the Cabinet meeting. “It was felt that since these are extremely important pieces of legislation.

 Therefore in the highest traditions of democracy, perhaps it is advisable to have a full deliberation by the legislature before enactment,” Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari told reporters after the meeting. At the same time, he said the government would ensure that after “fullest deliberations by the legislature” these bills do translate into reality.

The bills were seen as the Congress’ last-ditch efforts to reclaim the anti-graft plank, seen to be appropriated by Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party and the Narendra Modi-led BJP in the run-up to general elections due in April-May.

The CPM had also opposed the government’s plan to promulgate an ordinance to tackle corruption. “To promulgate ordinances to suit the ruling party’s interests after Parliament has been adjourned on the eve of election announcement will amount to a blatantly anti- democratic and partisan exercise,” said CPM general secretary Prakash Karat in the letter to the President.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet decided to include the Jat community into the Central list of Other Backward Classes in Bihar, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and the National Capital Territory.

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