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UPA may recall ordinance on convicted lawmakers as Rahul calls it ‘nonsense’

Cong clearly appeared flummoxed by Rahul's stand as Maken completely backtracked from his statement.

Written by PTI | New Delhi |
September 27, 2013 4:45:31 pm

With Rahul Gandhi slamming the ordinance against disqualification of convicted lawmakers,Government is expected to take back the controversial measure,Congress indicated on Friday.

Rahul says govt’s ordinance on convicted lawmakers is nonsense

“Rahul ji’s opinion is the opinion and the line of Congress… Now Congress party is opposed to this Ordinance,” he said. The views of Congress party should always be supreme,” party general secretary and communication department in-charge Ajay Maken said when asked about the fate of the ordinance in the wake of Rahul’s views and whether it is likely to be withdrawn.

The Congress clearly appeared flummoxed by Rahul’s stand as Maken,at a meet-the-press programme at the Press Club here,completely backtracked from his statement praising the ordinance as “perfect”,made minutes before the party Vice-President took the stage and denounced the measure calling it “complete nonsense” and “wrong” on the part of the government.

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Cong leaders divided

Soon after Gandhi denounced the ordinance as “complete nonsense” and which “should be torn up and thrown away”,Special Invitee to Congress Working Committee Anil Shastri said on Twitter,”Rahul Gandhi’s condemnation of the ordinance on convicted MPs/MLAs makes the GOI stand on this untenable & it must immediately withdraw it.”

Somnath Chatterjee welcomes Rahul’s stand

In another tweet,he said,”to save itself from further embarrassment on its controversial ordinance,GOI must take remedial action to save its image in public eye.”

Earlier,also some Congress leaders besides Shastri including Digvijay Singh,Milind Deora and Sandip Dikshit had expressed their reservations against the move.

Deora,who is a Union Minister,had tweeted,”Legalities aside allowing convicted MPs/MLAs 2 (sic) retain seats in the midst of an appeal can endanger already eroding public faith in democracy”.

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit had also opposed the move.

Opposition rubbishes Rahul’s blunt attack on Ordinance

However,the party’s official spokespersons have been maintaining a different stand on the issue backing the government’s move on the ordinance.

Not surprisingly,when Rahul Gandhi,in an unexpected appearance at a meet-the-press programme at the Press Club being addressed by Maken,slammed the ordinance,a clearly flummoxed Maken had to within minutes completely backtrack from his statement praising the ordinance as “perfect”.

Maken sidestepped questions on whether Gandhi’s remarks meant a “rebellion” against the government or a public snub to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his government.

Semi-column: Pranab’s Presidential moment

“Rahul Gandhi is our leader. His views are views of the Congress party. The situation with any issue evolves with time and it has evolved and no one should have any objection to it,” he merely said in reply to such questions.

“What Rahul Gandhi said is the most important thing… that this Ordinance will not help us fight corruption. He is our leader and I think this is our official political stand. Rahul ji’s opinion is the opinion and the line of of Congress…Now Congress party is opposed to this Ordinance,” he said.

Maken downplays Cong leaders’ remarks

Before Rahul intervened during the press meet,Maken had dismissed Opposition criticism of the ordinance and downplayed the remarks of some Congress leaders including Digvijay Singh,Sandip Dikshit and Milind Deora,who opposed the measure.

President puts a question mark on ordinance

He slammed the BJP for opposing the ordinance saying that it “should not try and make it a political blame game and take advantage of both the situations”,noting that the opposition party does not have moral right to change its stand after backing all proposals at an all-party meeting in August.

Maken even credited the “collective wisdom” of Congress President Sonia Gandhi,Vice President Rahul Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for UPA’s actions.

Semi-column: Pranab’s Presidential moment

He,however,later justified the U-turn saying “the situation with any issue evolves with time and it has evolved. Rahul has given an opinion on the issue and now it is the Congress view.”

When asked whether the Prime Minister will now withdraw the ordinance that seeks to negate a Supreme Court verdict that struck down the provision in the Representation of the People Act deferring disqualification of convicted lawmakers,Maken refused to answer.

‘Rahul has aired views without ambiguity’

“I do not think I have an answer to a hypothetical question,” he said,adding “Rahul Gandhi has aired the views of the common man. Rahul Gandhi is our leader and he had put across his views before you without any ambiguity”.

Related: AAP asks President to refer back the Ordinance to govt

He added that the Congress Vice President has spoken out his mind on a moral plane.

“Times have changed and people do not want to see any convicted person to be their representative. Rahul ji has aired the views of the common man. He does not want a convicted person to become a public representative…,” Maken said.

To a specific question on whether Gandhi’s remarks has reinforced that there are two power centres in Congress,He said,”Rahul has taken this stand on a high moral ground. He has not spoken just any technical thing. Gandhi has expressed his views on moral and ethical ground.”

‘Rahul put forth Congress’ views’

Asked whether the Congress Vice President was not consulted before the decision and whether the flip-flop points to lack of communication between Rahul and the government,Maken said,”After Rahul Gandhi’s views,the party has given its opinion. Let us see what action is taken after this.”

He also said that “…I am the Communication Department chief of Congress. There are others who look after the communication between Rahul Gandhi and the central government”.

Maken also said that Union Minister Manish Tewari,V Narayanasamy or he himself were earlier placing the views of the government,when asked that whether Congress should also be now criticised for opposing the Ordinance like BJP.

“I had placed the view of Chidambaram. I also placed the view of the government. Rahul put forth the views of the party,” he said.

Without mincing words,Rahul had hit out at the ordinance,saying,”It is complete nonsense,it should be torn up and thrown away. It is my personal opinion.”

Rahul said that the arguments given in “my organisation” is that “we need to do this because of political considerations. Everybody is doing this. The Congress does this,the BJP does this,the Samajwadi Party,the JD(U) does this. It is time to stop this nonsense,political parties,mine and all others…”.

Maken denied suggestions that Rahul came out with a changed response of Congress on the ordinance issue as President Pranab Mukherjee could be having reservations on the issue and his utterances today are a “political stunt”.

“I don’t think so. Rahul ji is an independent person. He has his strong views…Rahul has a thinking of his own and he puts forth his views strongly. He has expressed his very own opinion strongly,” Maken said.

He also expressed annoyance at journalists for giving their opinions on the issue telling them “you can ask questions but you cannot give opinion…. You are also giving opinions while you are asking questions.”

At the outset,Maken had attacked the BJP,saying,”on August 13,when an all-party meeting took place,the exact formulation of the Ordinance was discussed and all parties agreed.

“The formulation is not something on which anyone should disagree. The principal Opposition party had agreed to the formulation of the Ordinance.”

He also said BJP has “no moral right” to raise such issues,when they have “convicted” Babu Bokhiria in the cabinet of Narendra Modi in Gujarat and reminded it of the corruption scandal involving former BJP President Bangaru Laxman.

“I do not think,BJP has a local standi or moral authority to oppose the Ordinance as they had accepted all the formulation of Ordinance earlier.”

He also downplayed played by some Congress leaders to the Ordinance saying “we are a big political party” and added that “different opinions in the party” reflect internal democracy.

Maken had at the same time asserted that “the decision taken by the government is perfect” and that “such ordinance are not decided keeping in mind one or two persons. Senior persons from the government must have taken the decision after due consideration.”

He made the remarks while replying to question on whether the government took the ordinance route on this matter to help RJD chief Lalu Prasad,whose fate is to be decided by a Special CBI court in the fodder scam on September 30 or help some Congress leaders facing similar problems.

Maintaining that “ordinance is also a form of legislation”,Maken had also assured that if the Parliamentary Standing Committee before which the bill is pending in this regard “decides something else”,then a separate bill will be brought before Parliament.

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