The Union Cabinet rejected the ordinance route for a set of anti-corruption measures despite pressure from Rahul Gandhi for bringing such laws.
The Union Cabinet, which met here on Sunday evening, discussed the issue of these ordinances but it was felt that "full deliberations" are required in Parliament keeping with the "highest traditions of democratic principles", Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari told reporters. This was the second time in three days that the Cabinet decided against using the ordinance route on certain measures, which were being pushed by Rahul Gandhi as part of a "framework" to fight corruption.
This decision is believed to have been influenced by the apprehension that President Pranab Mukherjee would not give assent to these. Senior ministers like Law Minister Kapil Sibal and Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde met the President at least twice since Saturday, apparently to gauge his mood but evidently did not get any positive signal.
Sources said the Congress Core Group, headed by Sonia Gandhi, had on Saturday given its assent to using the ordinance route to measures like Prevention of Corruption Act, Citizens' Right to Time-bound Delivery of Services and Citizens Charter Bill, SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill and Rights of Persons with Disability Bill.
When asked about the ordinances, Tewari said, "there was a discussion around the issue. It was felt that these are extremely important legislations that have a bearing on national life. So in the light of highest traditions of democracy, it would perhaps be advisable to allow full deliberation by the legislature."
He said there was a view that some of these proposed legislations are pending before the Parliamentary Standing Committees and it was decided that "normal legislative route" be followed.
He insisted that this should not be construed as any dilution of Congress' commitment towards these measures, which remain an "article of faith" for the party.
"We will ensure that after fullest deliberations by the legislature, these measures which are conceived by the Congress are translated into a reality," the minister said.
'BJP Scuttles Deliberations'
Tewari used the occasion to attack BJP, saying the opposition party repeatedly disrupted Parliament for the last five years, thus scuttling deliberations on these measures.
"There is a huge difference between the talk and actions by BJP," he said, adding the Congress party will highlight this during campaigning for the Lok Sabha polls.
Tewari, who was flanked by Cabinet colleague Jairam Ramesh, said the Congress has anyhow taken strict action, without even waiting for a court determination, whenever any instance of corruption or graft has come to light.
Ahead of the two-hour Cabinet meeting, senior ministers A K Antony and Shinde as also Ahmed Patel, Political Secretary to Congress President, met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
This meeting apparently set the tone for the Cabinet meeting as by then it was clear that the government was against using the ordinance route.
At the Cabinet meeting, Shinde and Sibal are learnt to have said that these measures require wider discussions and it was better that these be left for Parliament to deliberate upon.
The government was initially enthusiastic about bringing ordinances on five anti-corruption legislations which remained pending in the just-concluded extended Winter session of Parliament.
The enthusiasm was driven by Rahul Gandhi's push to these as he insisted that these were important to build a "framework" to fight corruption.