Ahead of the Union Cabinet meeting on Sunday evening, the Congress Core group will meet in the afternoon to consider, once again, whether it should clear a set of ordinances on anti-corruption measures, welfare of the SC/STs and the disabled, and the setting up of a SEBI regulator.
On Saturday evening, Congress president Sonia Gandhi met her political secretary Ahmed Patel along with some Union Ministers, including A.K. Antony, Sushilkumar Shinde and Jairam Ramesh.
Shortly thereafter, Law Minister Kapil Sibal and Mr. Shinde called on President Pranab Mukherjee and discussed the ordinances. Official sources said the President did not favour the idea as the life of this government is winding to a close.
While the Congress, especially its vice-president Rahul Gandhi, is very keen that the party complete its social welfare agenda and clear the anti-graft measures before the general election, neither the Cabinet, which met here on Friday, nor the Congress Core group that convened later in the evening feels it would be appropriate at this stage of the regime to push through a bunch of ordinances, even to make a political point.
Official sources said the sense was that it would invite criticism, and even if the ordinances were cleared by the Cabinet, it was doubtful if the President would oblige the government by signing on them. These ordinances were on the agenda of the Cabinet on Friday but a decision was postponed, reportedly after Agriculture Minister and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar said he did not see the need to promulgate ordinances at the very end of the tenure of the government. Mr. Pawar is believed to have said the matter should be left for the next government.
No agenda yet
Curiously, at the time of our going to press, the Ministers had not received the agenda papers for Sunday's Cabinet meeting that comes hours before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s departure for Myanmar on an official visit. The ordinances under consideration include the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, the Right of Citizens for Time-Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and the Redressal of their Grievances Bill, the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, the Rights of Persons with Disability Bill and the SEBI Bill.