Cabinet decides against ordinance route for anti-graft bills

At its last Cabinet meeting, on Sunday, ahead of the general election, the UPA government decided to give reservation to Jats in nine northern States, while it eventually rejected the ordinance route for the anti-graft bills that were being promoted by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi after President Pranab Mukherjee expressed his reservations on the subject.

However, the Cabinet took three decisions relating to the division of Andhra Pradesh, two of which will require an ordinance as they entail amendments to the recently passed Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act.

Finally, the Cabinet also decided to de-notify 123 properties currently under the control of the Land and Development Organisation and the Delhi Development Authority and allow the titles to revert to the Delhi Waqf Board.

The President’s reluctance to sign any ordinance — whether on anti-corruption measures, the rights of the disabled, or amending The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act — expressed to delegations of Ministers on Saturday, and again on Sunday, ensured that the decisions that the government eventually took do not require parliamentary approval, the exception being the amendments to the A.P. Reorganisation Act.

Indeed, when Union Minister Jairam Ramesh was asked if the President would clear this ordinance, he said the government would have to wait.

If the reservation to Jats, who will now be part of the OBC category, in government jobs is expected to help the Congress’s electoral prospects in Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections, it could have repercussions among other OBCs whose share will now shrink.

Meanwhile, sources in the Cabinet said the National Commission for Backward Classes, which had been asked to examine the demand for reservation for Jats, sent back a divided recommendation, and thus there is concern that the Cabinet decision could be challenged.

Announcing the decisions on Andhra Pradesh, Mr. Ramesh said the Cabinet had directed the Planning Commission to grant special category status for five years to the successor state — popularly known as Seemandhra — as Central aid is routed through the panel.

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