Centre to make NAC files public

700 documents to be released soon

Centre to make NAC files public

In a move that could stir controversy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office has decided to make public the decisions taken by the erstwhile National Advisory Council — headed by Congress president Sonia Gandhi — during the decade-long United Progressive Alliance government.

Around 700 files containing the minutes of the NAC meetings, details of foreign and domestic tours undertaken by its members, and other sensitive government matters handled by the council will be made public shortly, highly placed government sources said.

The files will establish that it was Sonia who was running the UPA government and not former prime minister Manmohan Singh, the sources said.

Throughout NAC’s existence from 2004, the BJP had described it as an “extra-Constitutional authority” designed to equip Sonia with remote control to run the Manmohan Singh-led government.

But the Congress had always defended NAC, arguing that its existence marked signs of a healthy democracy and that the advisory body facilitated greater pre-policy deliberations.

NAC was scrapped after the NDA government came to power in May 2014.

Modi himself was a critic of NAC. During his stint as Gujarat chief minister, he had charged the council with drafting a “perverse” and “ill-conceived” bill to tackle communal violence, which was seen by the BJP as a tool to target its government in Gujarat.

One of the files accessed by the then NAC chief Sonia, which is expected to be made public, was on the legislation to regulate real estate.

The then Union minister for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Kumari Shelja, wrote to “Madam” on November 16, 2011, “informing” and seeking her “guidance” on the “Real Estate (Regulation & Development) Bill 2011”.

At that time, the bill had been circulated among the chief ministers and Central ministers for their feedback, revealed Shelja’s communication.

The file showed back-and-forth conversations. Among them were suggestions on the draft legislation by the private real estate developers associations, CREDAI, and a leading real estate developer.  It also contained a note dated December 2, 2011, from Rita Sharma, who was secretary to the advisory body, giving the salient features of the bill and marked to Sonia.

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