Predictably, the Opposition has been critical of the manner in which the government has gone about withdrawing the draft ordinance protecting convicted lawmakers from disqualification besides the original Bill introduced in the Rajya Sabha, which has since been referred to a parliamentary standing committee for further scrutiny.
The government had introduced the Bill after consensus among political parties at a meeting convened here before the commencement of the monsoon session of Parliament.
The consensus was based on the ground that the issue of disqualification was entirely the jurisdiction of Parliament and the Supreme Court had overstepped its role in pronouncing the judgment.
Minutes after the Cabinet meeting, the Deputy Leader of the BJP in the Rajya Sabha Ravi Shankar Prasad asserted that the reversal of the draft ordinance spoke volumes about the powers of the Prime Minister and the collective responsibility of the Cabinet when pitted against the young Gandhi scion.
“The government has no wisdom or sense of morality. When the ordinance was brought in great speed, there was no consideration of morality. Our leaders represented to the President Pranab Mukherjee asking him not give assent to the ordinance. We are grateful that the President sought clarifications from the government,” he said.
The BJP leader said that the U-turn by the government was a telling commentary on sheer power of dynasty.
CPI (M) welcomes the move
A leader of the CPI (M) said that the party had already said that it was opposed to this practice of promulgating ordinances instead of discussing issues in Parliament. “So, it is good that the ordinance has been withdrawn.”
The CPI (M) Polit Bureau had earlier opposed the ordinance regarding the disqualification of sitting MPs and MLAs. In a statement on Sept. 25, it said: “The UPA government is repeatedly using the ordinance route which is undemocratic. The matter regarding the disqualification of elected members who are convicted should have been discussed in Parliament and appropriate steps taken.”
RJD national spokesperson Manoj Jha, whose leader Lalu Prasad has been convicted and is likely to face disqualification if a higher court does not grant him relief, said that the decision to withdraw the Bill was one of the most regressive steps as far as broadening the social base of Indian democratic polity was concerned.
His case was that ‘Mr. Know-it-All’ of the dominant section of the Indian political spectrum had chosen to remain oblivious of the larger socio-political reality of India.
“A society, where more than 2/3rd of our population still struggles around the issue of ‘land, labour and dignity’, a society where access to judiciary and ‘due process of law’ is still determined by identity and class/caste location, the uncritical glorification of the honourable Supreme Court’s observations shall only restrict the game of democracy within the influence of the power elite.
“Even a cursory look at the Indian parliamentarians’ profile underlines that if these observations had come five decades ago we would certainly have lost the best and the most colourful voices representing the causes and voices of inarticulate subalterns”, he said.
D. Raja of the Communist Party of India welcomed the decision; stating that this was good for democracy. Referring to the anger across the country over the bid to promulgate the ordinance, he said this forced the Congress to review its decision and demonstrated yet again people's power.
Trinamool hails withdrawal
Kolkata Staff Reporter writes:
The Trinamool Congress on Wednesday welcomed the Union Cabinet’s decision to withdraw the proposed ordinance to protect convicted lawmakers.
“It is good that the ordinance has been withdrawn. We have been demanding this from the beginning but the entire process has undermined the Cabinet system of governance and democracy,” senior Trinamool Congress and party MP in the Lok Sabha, Saugata Roy told The Hindu.
The manner it was done, three days after Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi said that it should be torn apart, looks “clumsy and ham-handed,” Mr. Roy said.
Mr. Roy, who was also a Minister in the Congress-led UPA government before the Trinamool Congress withdrew support in September 2012 said: “It shows lack of maturity on the part of the government. The episode also shows the lack of coordination between the party and the government.”