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Rahul Gandhi’s ordinance shortcut loses way

After President frowns, government decides not to go along with the move.

Written by D K Singh | New Delhi | Updated: March 3, 2014 8:39 am
Although the Cabinet could meet once more before the code of conduct kicks in, the government wouldn’t propose any ordinance whatsoever, sources said. (Reuters) Although the Cabinet could meet once more before the code of conduct kicks in, the government wouldn’t propose any ordinance whatsoever, sources said. (Reuters)

For once, legal and propriety issues outweighed Rahul Gandhi’s clout in the UPA government as the Union Cabinet on Sunday dropped plans to bring the anti-corruption ordinances he was pushing. 

President Pranab Mukherjee weighed in to change the government’s mind, conveying his strong disapproval of the move to ministers who called on him earlier in the day to get him on board, according to sources.

While the ordinances were not formally placed as an agenda item at Sunday’s Cabinet meeting, they came up in the course of discussions. “It was generally felt that the normal legislative route should be followed in the case of anti-corruption legislations, primarily because they require a full-fledged debate by Parliament,” said a source present at the meeting.

Sources added that although the Cabinet could meet once more before the code of conduct kicks in, the government wouldn’t propose any ordinance whatsoever.

Apart from the propriety of bringing ordinances on poll-eve, said sources, Mukherjee also pointed out some “technical” issues. The fact that this government would bring an ordinance when 15th Lok Sabha is still alive and then leave it for the next government and the next Lok Sabha to ratify it was not considered proper. The President was said to have discussed all these aspects with Law Minister Kapil Sibal and Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde when they called on him.

After this meeting, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held consultations with senior ministers and party leaders, before finally deciding to drop the ordinance plan, to avoid the possible embarrassment of seeing Rashtrapati Bhavan sit over the ordinances.

These issues had been flagged at the Congress core group meeting on Friday evening as well, with the Law Ministry expressing reservations over the “urgency” for ordinances on the eve of general elections. However, the top guns of the government had then chosen to put these concerns aside in deference to Rahul’s wish.

A section of the ruling Congress also believes that the indelible image of the UPA government bending and crawling to the Congress vice-president’s whims and fancies would only harm the party in the forthcoming elections. Rather than emerging as a leader who could question, defy and deride the system that was developed and nurtured even by his mother Sonia Gandhi — as planned and projected — Rahul, said sources, was coming across as an “irresponsible leader who loved to show off his authority even at the expense of the Prime Minister’s, a leader who would tear an ordinance on convicted lawmakers one day and shake hands with Lalu Prasad the next day”.

“These anti-corruption ordinances, if promulgated, would have badly boomeranged on Rahul and the entire Congress. (Narendra) Modi, I am sure, would have loved to see the Cabinet toeing Rahul’s line once again,” said a senior Congress leader and minister.

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    Anubha Dixit
    Mar 3, 2014 at 5:54 am
    Rahul hi is turning up quite well. In the past few years, he has done commendable work, working on real issues, influencing people from ground level, he has done everything and that too, very effectively. Great to see him in Indian Politics
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      Himani Kansal
      Mar 3, 2014 at 5:45 am
      Pranab Mukherjee said it rightly that these ordinance need some debate in the parliament and it must follow the consutional route. But still, we must appreciate Rahul hi for taking some genuine steps against corruption
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        Himani Kansal
        Mar 3, 2014 at 5:48 am
        Rahul hi is a visionary leader, he works honestly on real issues and he is clear of his plans. Its quite a disappointment that these ordinances could not find its way, but still I'm happy to see Rahul hi taking such necessary steps
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          Rakhi
          Mar 3, 2014 at 7:37 am
          This is the time to think which party is doing good and thinking good of the country and its people. Modi is just advancing his prospects of being the Prime Minister. other parties and their leaders too are dreaming of the same. On the other hand Congress wants to give people of india their rights and powers. Make the right choice this time.
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            Ravinder Kapkoti
            Mar 3, 2014 at 6:01 am
            These bills are urgent, although it can not be ped overnight, so its quite a good decision. And Rahul hi has done a good job, its very much appreciable
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