Pranab downplays ordinance role

Mukherjee “presumed” that it was about the role he had played as Leader of the Lok Sabha.

Written by D K Singh | On Board The President’s Aircraft | Published: October 6, 2013 1:27 am

As he flew from Brussels to Istanbul Saturday,President Pranab Mukherjee sought to play the role of a titular head to perfection,downplaying his remarks on terror infrastructure in Pakistan as “nothing new”,leaving questions on economy for the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister,and maintaining that the Union Cabinet was “the mother of the ordinance” on convicted MPs and MLAs and he had “nothing to do” with the decision to withdraw it.

Asked whether Belgian’s King Philippe’s description of him as “a consensus builder” was in reference to a possible role that he could play post-polls next year,Mukherjee “presumed” that it was about the role he had played as Leader of the Lok Sabha and in running the government. “That chapter was over on 25 June 2012 when I resigned from the government . My duties are now completely determined by the Constitution,” he said.

On the Opposition’s views that it was him and not Rahul Gandhi who had been instrumental in the withdrawal of the ordinance,Pranab said it was “speculation of individuals” and he had given appointments to everybody who sought it,be it BJP leaders or the Aam Aadmi Party. “I had also discussed it with the Prime Minister,” he added,stressing that he had nothing to do with it. Sources,however,said that when he summoned three Union Ministers — Kapil Sibal,Kamal Nath and Sushil Kumar Shinde — he asked them whether the proposed ordinance would stand legal scrutiny. Thanks to his strong stand,the ministers had rushed to seek Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s views again.

Asked whether the PM had forwarded him the resignation of ministers who put in papers against the decision to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh,he replied in the negative. If the PM had not forwarded him the resignation letters,said sources,it was because he had conveyed to the PM’s office earlier that during his foreign visits,only “extremely urgent” matters should be referred to him.

Similarly,before giving his interview to the Turkish newspaper in which he linked the dismantling of terror infrastructure by Pakistan with “any other developments” (progress in talks),Pranab was learnt to have touched base with the Prime Minister in New York. Sources maintained that the President’s remarks — the interview was given a day after Manmohan Singh-Nawaz Sharif meeting — therefore,also reflected the government’s stand. “I have said it 100 times that you can choose your friends,but not neighbours,” he said Saturday.

Dikshit: Rahul could have used ‘some other words’

New Delhi: Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit has said Rahul Gandhi could have used “some other words” to criticise the ordinance on convicted lawmakers. “Maybe some other words could have been used but what he (Rahul) reflected was something all of us were feeling,” she said. PTI

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