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Ordinance nonsense: Own men ditching UPA

Union minister of state for information technology Milind Deora has joined the opposition bandwagon in criticising his own government for criminalising politics by clearing the ordinance negating SC order. Guess BJP just won a huge point.

While the Bhartiya Janata Party got its act together, the Congress seems to be loosing its cool. After devising so many social security policies and other schemes for the voters, the Congress looks like giving up.

The arrival of Narendra Modi in the scene and a stronger opposition has perhaps made the party take up steps in frenzy.

The recent in line is the ordinance negating Supreme Court’s order to disqualify convicted politicians from contesting elections again. Not only the opposition is criticising the government, now its own people are speaking against it.

Union minister of state for information technology Milind Deora has joined the opposition bandwagon in criticising his own government for the same. “Legalities aside, allowing convicted MPs/MLAs 2 (to) retain seats in the midst of an appeal can endanger already eroding public faith in democracy,” he tweeted through his official twitter account.

Even Digvijay Singh look troubled by government’s action. His words showed that the ggovernment was working under some kind of urgency which did not even demand taking everybody from the government and the parent party in account. “It would have been better if a concensus was arrived at. Maybe the government had its compulsions,” he had said.

On the same social media platform, BJP leader Sushma Swaraj had tweeted against the government’s decision. She had “requested” the president “not to sign this ordinance”. “The President is not obliged to sign an ordinance that is unconstitutional”, she had tweeted.

The Supreme court on 10 July had ruled that an MP or an MLA would stand disqualified immediately if convicted by a court for crimes with punishment of two years or more. To negate the Supreme Court order, the government moved to amend the law and brought the Representation of the People (Second Amendment) Bill, 2013 in Rajya Sabha during the monsoon session.

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In his legal opinion on the matter, Attorney General Goolam E Vahanvati had told the government that only a Constitutional amendment would undo the effect of the SC judgment.

“Dealing with the legal problem which has been posed (regarding Constitutionality of Section 8(4) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 as decided by the SC) I am of the view that if the Parliament is to effectively and comprehensively deal with the issue, it could only be done by a Constitutional amendment, and not by statutory amendments to the RP Act, 1951,” Vahanvati said in his opinion.

The government came up with the ordinance after it failed to get the bill passed in the monsoon session.

The Bill introduced in the parliament, states: “…A disqualification under any of the said sub-sections shall not, in the case of a person who on the date of the conviction is a member of Parliament or the legislature of a state, take effect, if an appeal or application for revision is filed in respect of the conviction and sentence within a period of 90 days from the date of conviction and such conviction or sentence is stayed by the court.”

In the Bill, a proviso has been added to sub-section (4) of section 8 of the Representation of People Act which makes it clear that convicted member shall continue to take part in proceedings of Parliament or Legislature of a State but he or she shall neither be entitled to vote nor draw salary and allowances till the appeal or revision is finally decided by the court.

The ordinance will ensure the same.

According to Article 103, “the question whether a sitting member of the House has become subject to disqualification shall be referred to the President whose decision shall be final. Before giving his decision, the President will obtain the opinion of the Election Commission (EC) and act on that opinion.”
Also, there is no automatic and instant disqualification, according to the bill, “It has to wait for the President’s decision.”

In his address to the rally at Jaipur, Rahul Gandhi in his speech had said that the government will not spare any criminals and that they willnot let criminals contest election. He had also come up with a five page application form to select the candidate for a constituency which demanded to disclose any criminal case pending on the applicant.

Interestingly, the BJP had previously backed the bill which was introduced in the parliament but had asked to send it to parliamentary standing committee for further approval. Looking at the changed scenario where they have surely sensed Congress’ unease, they have changed their stance.

While Congress, in a desperate attempt which was perhaps to save its own leader Rasheed Masood and previous ally RJD’s Lalu Yadav, cleared the ordinance within days. Now it lies on President’s table for official seal.

Meanwhile, as promised the BJP leaders met President Pranab Mukherjee and asked him to return the ordinance terming it “immoral and unconstitutional”. BJP Parliamentary Party Chief L K Advani, Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and her Rajya Sabha counterpart Arun Jaitley met Mukherjee and submitted to him a memorandum on the issue.

Swaraj denied that BJP earlier supported the bill on convicted MPs and MLAs and has backed out now. She also alleged that there is a division in the government on the issue as some MPs are reportedly against the ordinance.

In the memorandum to the President, the party said the fact that this government can be “pressurised by the logic of the tainted” speaks volumes about its lack of integrity. It further said procedurally it is improper to bring an ordinance in a matter which is already pending before the Standing Committee.

“What was the urgency that the government was compelled to bring this legislation through the ordinance route? The only compelling reason for bypassing Parliament and taking the ordinance route is to help a class of tainted politicians who have been already convicted or are apprehensive of a court judgement in near future,” the memorandum said.

In UPA’s nine and a half year long, there has been an endless relay of scams. With assembly elections in five states in November and general election next year, UPA opened its kitty at the eleventh hour hoping to earn all it needs for making the government again.

The BJP vs Congress fight kept deepening and Congress kept trying to keep up. But this time it has made a huge mistake. Now the UPA is set to go down in history as a supporter of criminalisation of politics in law.

Guess BJP just won a huge point.

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