Cabinet rejects ordinance route for Rahul’s pet bills
Ahead of the cabinet meeting, called especially to push through Rahul Gandhi’s pet anti-corruption bills through ordinance route, home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, defence minister AK Antony and Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel met the President Pranab Mukherjee. Prime minister’s principal secretary Pulok Chatterjee also attended the meet.
The decision to meet the PM followed the call given by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M) urging President not to approve the clutch of bills which the cabinet sought to pass as ordinances for politically vested reasons. ‘The union cabinet is considering a clutch of bills which were not taken up in Parliament during the recently concluded session,’ CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat said in a letter to Mukherjee. Karat said to promulgate ordinances to suit the ruling party’s interests after Parliament had been adjourned, and on the eve of the election announcement, would amount to ‘a blatantly anti-democratic and partisan exercise.’ Mukherjee is known to enjoy a ‘cordial’ relation with the left parties.
According to sources, the delegation met the PM at his residence ahead of the cabinet meeting and discussed the ‘sense of Rashtrapati Bhavan’ on the ordinances. After the hectic consultation, it was decided not to push the matter any further lest it invite adverse reaction in public domain and pitch the government in adversarial position vis-a-vis the president. The anti-graft bills were being considered as the ruling party’s penultimate and face-saving efforts to take back the anti-corruption plank from the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP and Narendra Modi-led BJP before the general elections commence in second week of April.
In a press conference after the cabinet meeting, union minister Manish Tewari said, ‘There was a discussion around the issue but since these are very important pieces of legislation and need fullest deliberations in the legislature, in the finest tradition of democracy, we decided to debate in Parliament. But it does not take away our commitment to fight corruption.’
It was decided to go ahead with the agenda which would harvest limited political gains – reservation for the landholding class of Jats and special status to Seemandhara. The demand to give Jat community reservation in central government jobs and educational institutions came from nine states - Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Uttarakhand and Bihar. The decision regarding the division of Andhra Pradesh gives special status to Seemandhra - the region that will form the residuary state once Telangana is carved out as India’s 29th state.