Tuesday, Sep 23, 2014

In countdown to polls, UPA govt pushes for dozen cabinet proposals to beat model code of conduct

The ordinances must get the President’s nod by Saturday as the code of conduct would prevent promulgation of any ordinance. AP The ordinances must get the President’s nod by Saturday as the code of conduct would prevent promulgation of any ordinance. AP
Written by Amitav Ranjan | New Delhi | Posted: February 28, 2014 2:34 am | Updated: February 28, 2014 12:00 pm

With the Election Commission likely to announce poll dates on March 2, the UPA government Thursday pushed a dozen Cabinet proposals, some of them seemingly populist, to beat the model code of conduct that comes into force with the announcement.

Among the key proposals that will be taken up by the Cabinet Friday is providing a minimum pension of Rs 1,000 per month to all members of the Employees’ Pension Scheme and approval to impose President’s Rule on Andhra Pradesh.

The list finalised late Thursday night includes two of the three ordinances Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi has said is necessary to fight corruption: the Right to Services & Grievances Bill for time-bound delivery of goods and services to citizens and the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill.

These ordinances must get the President’s nod by Saturday as the code of conduct would prevent promulgation of any ordinance.

Although not listed in the additional agenda, the Cabinet is also expected to take up the increase in the annual cap on subsidised LPG cylinders to remove the restriction of one cylinder per month.

Last month, the Cabinet raised the quota from nine to 12 cylinders on Rahul’s demand but said each consumer would get “12 cylinders per year at the rate of one cylinder per month”.

The blockbuster list also includes an ordinance to promulgate the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to increase reservation for disabled people in government jobs following a push from Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul.

Besides, there is an ordinance to amend securities laws – SEBI Act, Securities Contract Regulation Act and the Depositories Act – and another to amend the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act to make violations and penalties more stringent.

Also on the list is the amendment to Conduct of Election Rules to raise the ceiling on poll expenditure for a Lok Sabha seat to Rs 70 lakh from Rs 40 lakh and that for an Assembly constituency to Rs 28 lakh from Rs 16 lakh, as well as financial support to state-run BSNL and MTNL to pay salaries.

There is also a proposal to provide financial support for establishing four new National Institutes of Design in Bhopal, Jorhat, Hyderabad and Kurukshetra and approval to set up a new Rail Manufacturing unit in Kolar in Karnataka.

Earlier, the Cabinet Secretariat had pushed 12 proposals for Friday’s meeting that included 54 new Kendriya Vidyalayas, space programme GSLV-Mark III, a six-lane bypass for Delhi, terms of reference for the Seventh Pay Commission, Rs 3,500 crore for new broadcasting infrastructure for All India Radio and Doordarshan and 10-per cent dearness allowance for government employees.

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