The cabinet on Wednesday unanimously decided to axe a controversial ordinance and bill aimed at protecting convicted lawmakers, days after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi trashed the ordinance publicly. Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari made the announcement after PM Manmohan Singh, presided over a 20-minute cabinet meet.
“The decision of the cabinet was unanimous,” Tewari said. The ordinance, now with President Pranab Mukherjee, sought to overrule a Supreme Court ruling which wanted convicted MPs and state legislators disqualified from their respective legislatures.
“In so far as the bill is concerned, it is the property of parliament,” Tewari said. He added that at an appropriate time, it would be taken back.
The minister hastened to add that Wednesday’s move should not be seen as undermining the authority of the prime minister, who was party to the earlier decision to go for the ordinance. “Democracy is not a monolithic authoritarian system of government,” he said. “We respect the diversity of views, and there was a view which was articulated by Rahul Gandhi.”
Tewari said Gandhi’s outburst against the ordinance on Friday -- he had dubbed it ‘complete nonsense’ -- was possibly based on a ‘wider feedback which he had got’. “Under those circumstances, the cabinet decision was reconsidered and it was decided that we would withdraw both the bill and the ordinance. There is absolutely no question of undermining the authority of the prime minister in a cabinet system of government.”
He added, “On the contrary, it demonstrates that you have a government which is not authoritarian in nature. If you look at it with a liberal perspective, it only goes to underscore the sensitivity we attach to (other) views.”