Is UPA Emergency Ordinance Part Of Rahul Gandhi Makeover?

With the schedule for the Lok Sabha likely to be announced on Saturday, the UPA government…

The UPA government has decided to go all out before elections. It is planning to promulgate at least nine ordinances next week, days before Lok Sabha elections are announced. Since the party failed to do any meaningful work in the Parliament due to its own men protesting against Andhra Pradesh bifurcation, it is going to take ordinance route for all the pending bills.

The move has raised many eyebrows in bureaucracy and raised questions of propriety and constitutionality.

According The hindu, the cabinet committee on parliamentary affairs on Wednesday recommended prorogation of Parliament ahead of Friday’s Cabinet meeting. According to a report published in The Indian Express, four ministries had sent requests to the legislative department of the Ministry of Law and Justice to draft the ordinances by Wednesday so that they can be cleared by the Cabinet when it meets on Friday. An unprecedented number of Bills are expected to be cleared in this meeting including the possibility of draft ordinances on the pet anti-graft bills of the Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi.

These Bills are the Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill and the Public Procurement Bill, 2012.

The items for clearance include 54 new Kendriya Vidyalayas, space programme GSLV-Mark III, a six-lane bypass for Delhi, terms of reference for the 7 Pay Commission which was set up by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently.

The cabinet is also expected to consider Rs. 3,500 crore budget for new broadcasting infrastructure for All India Radio and Doordarshan, 10-per cent Dearness Allowance for government employees and 600 MW hydro-power projects in Bhutan.

The dearness allowance hike to 100 per cent from the existing 90 per cent is expected to benefit to benefiting 50 lakh employees and 30 lakh pensioners.

New schemes have been put up for approval by the Ministries for health, tourism, water resources, human resource development and agriculture. These include expansion of government-funded PhD seats for electronic systems design and manufacturing of hardware, a new investment scheme for urea, two new highways and a health research scheme from the Human Resource Development Ministry. Some shipping and steel projects will also come up for approvals.

The law ministry has also been asked to re-draft three ordinances that were promulgated earlier but had lapsed.

These include the SEBI (Amendment) Ordinance, 2013, which provides for greater power to the stock market regulator, the Indian Medical Council (Ordinance), 2013 and the Readjustment of Representation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in Parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies Ordinance, 2013.

A surprise inclusion to the list is one that could increase reservation for disabled persons in government jobs. Last week, rights activists had met Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi to seek support for this law.

With the schedule for the Lok Sabha likely to be announced on Saturday, the UPA government has decided to go on a feverish pace to clear all the pending work before the model code of conduct kicks in. The Cabinet meeting on Friday is expected to be a “marathon” one as it will be the last opportunity for the government to take policy decisions as well as ‘populist’ sops.

Constitutional expert Subhash C Kashyap reportedly said that the proposed ordinances would be against “constitutional propriety”.

“Under Article 123, the constitution provides that when both houses are not in session and a situation arises which calls for urgent legislative action then the President may issue an ordinance. What is the urgency now?” he was quoted in media.

“Technically, Parliament is still in session as it has not been prorogued. Has the situation changed so much in the last one week or so to merit ordinances? It will be highly unethical and against constitutional propriety for this government to issue any .ordinance now,” Kashyap has said.

Main opposition BJP has decided to register its protest with President Pranab Mukherjee if such a route is adopted.

“Issuing an ordinance is something which should be done in exceptional cases and between two sessions of Parliament. We (BJP) are against the ordinance route at this point of time and will register our protest with the President of India,” BJP president Rajnath Singh was quoted saying.

The UPA government failed to manage its own me in the Parliament due to which we saw series of disruptions with no business transacted in the last session. Taking the emergency route of ordinance will only irk the voters and give fodder to the opposition for criticism.

If the Congress party was so scared of its death, it should have kept its house in order. Emergency measures do not ensure life, they must already know. Which brings us to an important question: Is this all for Rahul Gandhi and his perfect-image project?

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