Press Trust of India
New Delhi, 1 October
The Union Cabinet is meeting tomorrow and may decide to withdraw the controversial ordinance on convicted lawmakers in the wake of its denunciation by Mr Rahul Gandhi, who has dubbed it as “complete nonsense” and should be “torn up and thrown away”.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who returns from his US visit tonight, has called the Cabinet meeting tomorrow evening, before which he will meet President Pranab Mukherjee.
The ordinance is currently before the President, who is said to have raised queries with three ministers he had called last week because of certain reservations. The President is leaving on a foreign tour tomorrow afternoon.
The Prime Minister has already said that his government is “seized of all the developments” regarding the ordinance and the issues raised will be considered on his return from the USA after due deliberations in the Cabinet.
The talk in government circles is that as there is no set precedent on withdrawing the recommendation to promulgate ordinance, the Prime Minister may himself raise the issue in the Cabinet meet and seek opinion of his colleagues before taking a call.
As the ordinance was the proposal of the Law Ministry, Law Minister Kapil Mr Sibal may raise the issue in the Cabinet. He could bring a proposal to withdraw the earlier Cabinet’s recommendation to the President to promulgate the ordinance.
Sources also did not rule out the possibility of Cabinet awaiting the decision of the President on the ordinance.
Ahead of the Cabinet meeting, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said since the Cabinet had approved the ordinance, “if any changes have to be made, then only the Cabinet can do it. The Prime Minister cannot say I am withdrawing it. I cannot say, you cannot say. Whatever decision is taken, it will be of the Cabinet”.
While Congress leaders have been insisting that the ordinance is “history”, it is to be seen how the UPA constituents like NCP and National Conference react given the fact that they are not happy over the way developments have taken place.
NCP leader and Union minister Praful Patel had said the developments following Rahul’s remarks criticising the ordinance were not a happy situation and it could have been better handled.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has sought a meeting of UPA coordination committee to discuss the measure threadbare.
Miffed over the situation caused by Mr Gandhi’s remarks, NCP chief spokesperson D P Tripathi today demanded immediate convening of the UPA coordination committee noting that consultations in the alliance "have to be known to the people and public at large".
The refrain at the AICC is that Mr Gandhi’s opinion is “well taken” in the party and the government, indicating thereby that the Cabinet could withdraw the ordinance.
Conceding that there were two views on the issues in the party earlier also, Mr Kamal Nath said that some MPs had earlier approached him saying that the whole issue should be reconsidered but the ordinance was brought as there was no time and the bill had already gone to the Rajya Sabha.
Mr Nath said that “Rahul Gandhi’s views were somewhat different” on the issue, though all parties in the all-party meeting on 13 August had accepted the amendments that were done in the ordinance. “And you have heard Rahul Gandhi’s views now,” he added.
The minister also hit out at the BJP accusing it of “politics of doublespeak” and “politics of kalakaari (drama).
He said that the BJP always does this act of supporting something in Parliament and opposing it outside. “I always deal with them. Who are their leaders, whom to talk to. This is the politics of the double speak of the Opposition. Everyone is in his own orbit. Somebody says one thing, the other says the other thing. Rajnath Singh will say I am not in agreement with him,” he said.