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Enthusiasm over; govt having second thoughts on anti-corruption ordinances being pushed by Rahul Gandhi

Saturday, 1 March 2014 - 8:42am IST | Agency: PTI

Government on Friday appeared to have shed its enthusiasm and was having second thoughts on bringing ordinances on anti-corruption and some populist measures, including those being pushed by Rahul Gandhi.

These ordinances were on the agenda of the Cabinet meeting today but were deferred, apparently after senior minister and NCP chief Sharad Pawar raised questions over the need for promulgation at the fag end of the tenure of the government.

He is understood to have said that there was no tearing hurry and the matter should be left for the future government to decide, sources said.

The government's reluctance is also believed to have been influenced by the fears that President Pranab Mukherjee might raise questions on similar grounds.

The Cabinet which met for nearly two hours decided to postpone the ordinances. These included ordinances on Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill and Right of Citizens for Time-Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill - both dealing with corruption, which were on the agenda of the meeting.

These are among the anti-corruption bills being pushed by Rahul Gandhi to create a "framework" to fight graft.

Along with these, the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, Rights of Persons with Disability Bill, Security Laws (Amendment) Bill and Delhi High Court Act (Amendment) Bill were also on the agenda.

Soon after the Cabinet took up the packed agenda for the day, Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth announced that items relating to the ordinances stand "postponed", sources said.

These proposed legislations could not be passed during the extended Winter Session of Parliament due to disturbances.

The issue of ordinances is also understood to have been discussed at a meeting of the Congress Core Group, headed by party President Sonia Gandhi and attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Sources said the government has not completely given up and the Prime Minister may gauge the mood of the President on the issue when he meets him before leaving for Myanmar on Monday.

Some sections in the government are of the view that bringing out ordinances just before the elections could lead to certain technical, legal and constitutional issues, sources said.

The Core Group meeting was also attended by Defence Minister A K Antony, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Ahmed Patel, Political Secretary to Gandhi, who are its members.

Four Union ministers including Law Minister Kapil Sibal were special invitees at the Core Group meeting which deliberated on the issue. Mallikarjun Kharge, Jairam Ramesh and V Narayansamy were the other ministers.

The Law Ministry had sent notes with all the ordinances on whether the reasons given by various ministries to promulgate the executive orders were acceptable to the Union Cabinet. The reason was that often ordinances have to withstand judicial scrutiny.

As Parliament session came to an end on February 21 and five of the six anti-graft measures being spearheaded by him failed to see the light of the day, Rahul had launched a blistering attack on the Opposition and had said that he would discuss with the party leadership regarding the option of ordinance route to push the measures.


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