The government on Monday appointed Congress president Sonia Gandhi chairperson of the National Advisory Council (NAC). She had resigned from the post in March 2006 following the controversy over the office of profit.
Chairperson of the ruling United Progressive Alliance, Ms. Gandhi will enjoy the rank of Cabinet Minister and her appointment has been made with immediate effect, an official spokesperson said here. Her tenure would be co-terminus with that of the NAC.
The other members of the Council are expected to be nominated in a few days.
Under the special provisions for an MP being appointed as an NAC member, he or she cannot draw any perk, allowance or remuneration from the Council other than the compensatory allowance as defined in Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1959, the spokesperson said.
For non-MPs, the announcement said the salary, allowances and other terms and conditions of the chairperson and members shall be such as the government may by order specify from time to time.
The chairperson of the NAC shall be entitled to the same salary, pay, allowances and other facilities to which a member of the Union Council of Ministers is entitled. Members shall draw such salary and allowances and the Central government may by order determine from time to time.
Following the controversy over the office of profit, Parliament passed the Office of Profit Bill, 2006, which exempted 55 posts, including the chairperson of NAC, from being considered for the office of profit.
The then President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam returned the Bill for reconsideration after it was passed in both Houses of Parliament, but gave his assent when it was sent to him the second time. The law has since been upheld by the Supreme Court.
The NAC was set up after the UPA came to power in 2004 as an interface with civil society with regard to the implementation of the government's National Common Minimum Programme (NCMP), including the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and the Forests Right Act.
The term of the first NAC ended on March 31, 2008, and it was not reconstituted as the general elections were scheduled early in 2009.
Ms. Gandhi had resigned as NAC chairperson and her Lok Sabha seat on March 23, 2006, after the Opposition charged her of holding the office of profit. She was re-elected to the Lok Sabha from her Rae Bareli constituency on May 15 the same year with a record majority.