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Cabinet withdraws MP bill, ordinance

New Delhi, Oct 2 : In a move that apparently is seen as a victory for Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday withdrew the much-debated ordinance meant to undo the Supreme Court's order that disqualify convicted MPs and MLAs.


In what appeared to be an action that ostensibly went against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Rahul Gandhi has trashed the Ordinance as something that should be torn and thrown away and demanded its withdrawal.

"The Union Cabinet today met in the evening and it was unanimously decided that we will withdraw the ordinance with regard to certain sections of Representation of People's Act," Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said after the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

The Cabinet has decided to withdraw both the bill as well as the ordinance.

"We would take both the bill and the ordinance back," Tewari said.

He said there can be diverse opinions in a democracy and the Congress respects the diversity of views.

"Democracy is not a monolithic authoritarian system of governance," said Tewari, adding that Rahul Gandhi perhaps took widest possible feedback and spoke against it.

"Under those circumstances the decision was reconsidered," he said.

"We respect diversity of views. There was a diverse view articulated by Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi," he said.

However, the minister clarified that there was no question of undermining the the Prime Minister.

"There is absolutely no question of undermining the authority of the PM or the cabinet. To some extent it shows that there is a government which is not authoritarian. It only goes to underscore the sensitivity we attach to opinions, he said.

He said the government re-decided on the bill and unanimously withdrew the same.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on his return from USA on Wednesday morning met senior Congress leaders on the issue.

"We got feedback on the ordinance from the entire country. It was a collective decision," said Congress spokesperson Renuka Chowdhury.

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday morning met Singh at his residence to discuss the ordinance.

According to sources, Rahul clarified his stand on the ordinance and said he will oppose it "at any cost".

However, Congress sources said, Rahul said he did not intend to embarrass Singh by countering his decision.

Ahead of the Cabinet meet on the controversial ordinance, Singh and Congress supremo Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday visited Raj Ghat here to pay their tribute to the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, on occasion of Gandhi Jayanti.

The two leaders laid floral wreaths on Mahatma Gandhi's memorial.

However, Rahul was absent on the occasion.

Singh on Tuesday said he will speak to Rahul over his last week's out burst regarding the ordinance.

"Well, I think, I have seen Mr. Rahul Gandhi's statement. He has written to me on this subject also and let me say that when issues are raised in a democracy, in a democratic polity, right courses to start with and trying to understand what is it agitating the mind of the concerned people. When I go back, I will discuss these matters with Mr. Rahul Gandhi. He has asked for a meeting with me and I will also take my Cabinet colleagues in to confidence. We will see which way the wind blows," PM told reporters while returning from the US to India.

Rahul on Sept 27 openly disapproved the ordinance and said it should be torn and thrown away.

During a Congress press conference at Delhi Press Club, Rahul made a brief appearance and said, "The ordinance is a complete nonsense. It should be torn and thrown away."

"We must stop making compromises," he said.

The Union Cabinet on Sept 22 cleared an ordinance to undo the Supreme Court's order that disqualify convicted MPs and MLAs.

The ordinance aimed to allow convicted legislators to retain positions if the appeal against the conviction is admitted by a higher court within 90 days.

On July 10, the Supreme Court ruled that MPs and MLAs, facing criminal charges, if convicted, would stand disqualified from the date of conviction.

They will stand disqualified even if they appealed to a higher court.

The court had cancelled a provision in the electoral law, which ensures that convicted lawmakers cannot be disqualified if they appeal in a higher court within three months.

--IBNS (Posted on 02-10-2013)

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