Ordinance passed to shield convicted Lawmakers from disqualification should be torn up and thrown away: Rahul Gandhi
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi dropped a bombshell on Friday by saying that the ordinance passed by his cabinet to shield convicted lawmakers from disqualification "is a complete nonsense" and that "it should be torn up and thrown away."His statement comes after reports of a growing unease in the Congress over the ordinance started doing the rounds. Union minister Milind Deora and Congress leader Anil Shastri have already gone public with their reservations on the ordinance. Even senior Congress leaders Digvijaya Singh has called for a consensus. Gandhi made his statement after making a surprise brief appearance at a meet-the-press programme of his party's general secretary Ajay Maken at the Press Club in the national capital. "Now, I will tell you what is my opinion on the ordinance. It is complete nonsense, it should be torn up and thrown away. It is my personal opinion," he said. Rahul also stated that the argument given in "my organisation" is that "we need to do this because of political considerations. Everybody is doing this. The Congress does this, the BJP does this, the Samajwadi Party, the JD(U) does this.""It is time to stop this nonsense, political parties, mine and all others....If you want to fight corruption in the country whether it is Congress Party or BJP, we cannot continue making these small compromises. Because if we make these small compromises, then we compromise everywhere. Hours later, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh issued a statement in New York and said the 'issues' raised by the Congress vice president will be discussed by the Cabinet when he returns home. "The ordinance has been a matter of much public debate and government is seized of all these developments," said Singh in a press statement.Earlier on Thursday, President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday called in three senior ministers for clarifications on the recent ordinance passed by the cabinet to shield convicted lawmakers from disqualification as the BJP urged him to return the proposal.The government is finding itself in a spot with the opposition turning up the heat on it for overturning a Supreme Court judgment that ordered immediate disqualification of MPs/MLAs convicted in a criminal case punishable by two years or more in jail.For the ordinance to become a law, it has to be signed by the President. If the cabinet re sends it, the President would have no choice but to sign it.Thursday evening was busy for the President. First, top BJP leaders registered their protest over what they termed was "an unconstitutional move" and then senior ministers were called in to explain the reasons behind the decision. The President, it is learnt, is treading with caution. Mukherjee is not entirely convinced with the government's ordinance move, and is learnt to have sought some clarifications from home minister Sushilkumar Shinde, law minister Kapil Sibal and parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath after the BJP requested the President to send the ordinance back to the cabinet, sources told us. Sources said Mukherjee may wait till Prime Minister Manmohan Singh returns from his visit on October 1. Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party will be meeting the President on Friday on the same issue. Senior BJP leaders LK Advani, Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj submitted a memorandum to Mukherjee, saying the July 10 SC verdict should be accepted by the political class. "We have requested him not to sign this unconstitutional ordinance and return to the cabinet for reconsideration," Advani said. Jaitley said the Court judgment had provided political parties an opportunity to improve their credibility. "Criminalisation of politics and politicisation of politics have been a matter of grave concern …People expect a convicted person to be in prison," Jaitley said.