New Delhi: Congress number 2 Rahul Gandhi today called an ordinance to protect convicted MPs and MLAs from disqualification ‘complete nonsense’ and said it should be torn up, in a huge embarrassment for his own government.
The government had pushed and forwarded to President Pranab Mukherjee in questionable haste this week despite strong objections from the opposition as well as the ruling Congress.
“There is a time to stop this nonsense. It is about time that political parties mind and stop making these type of compromises. If we actually want to stop corruption then we cannot make these compromises,” Mr Gandhi said, slamming the Ordinance.
Earlier, several Congress members had criticised the move.
“Most of us are against the ordinance, why the hurry?” asked Congress MP Sandeep Dikshit, the latest in a growing queue of Congressmen going public with their criticism of the move. Milind Deora, Digvijaya Singh, Priya Dutt and Anil Shastri have also questioned the rush to bring the ordinance.
“It should go to the Standing Committee (of Parliament). We hope the leadership agrees…we are exploring options within the party,” Mr Dikshit told NDTV.
The ordinance overturns a Supreme Court disqualifying convicted MPs and MLAs, and allows them to stay on without a salary or voting rights, if a court stays their conviction.
The proposed move has ranged the ruling party against its own government ahead of polls in five states later this year and the national elections due by May.
The President, who is reportedly unsure of the “compelling reasons” to bring the ordinance, has decided to wait for the Prime Minister’s return on Tuesday, say sources.
Last night, the President called the government’s top troubleshooters – Law Minister Kapil Sibal, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath. The ministers reportedly told Mr Mukherjee that the ordinance was needed to avoid a ‘vacuum in law’ after a Bill on it could not be passed in Parliament.
“We will honour the Supreme Court order. We are giving no protection to anybody. If any individual is convicted, it’s only if he or she gets a stay of conviction or stay of sentence, can he be allowed to participate in proceedings. If no stay is given, by the Court , either of conviction or of sentence, he can not just sit in the house,” Mr Sibal told NDTV.