New Delhi: Forced into a corner by Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi's condemnation of the ordinance to protect convicted lawmakers, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called a meeting of the Union Cabinet on Wednesday where it was decided to withdraw the controversial legislation as well as Bill regarding the same. The Cabinet decision comes following massive public disapproval and Rahul's displeasure calling the ordinance, which had been passed to negate a Supreme Court order that disqualified convicted legislators from the memberships of Parliament/ Assemblies, a "complete nonsense".
Rahul's remark which is seen as a direct confrontation with the Prime Minister and the Cabinet, came at a time when Manmohan Singh was in the Unites States for the UN General Assembly meeting. The timing of the reaction had attracted a lot of criticism from the Opposition leaders as well as the other UPA constituents.
The decision to withdraw the ordinance was taken in a meeting chaired by the Prime Minister at his residence which went on for just 10 minutes.
The Congress said that the decision of withdrawing the ordinance was taken unanimously keeping in mind the views of all the Cabinet members. "The Union Cabinet met today and it was unanimously decided that both the ordinance with regard to certain sections of the Representation of People's Act, as well as the Bill would be withdrawn," Union Minister Manish Tewari said after the meeting.
Sources said that Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar expressed his reservations over the decision by the Cabinet being taken in a 'hurry'.
The decision came after a day of hectic confabulations. There were several meetings including between Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday morning. Sources said that during the meeting, Rahul explained his stance on the ordinance and conveyed that it was not his intention to embarrass the Prime Minister by his rather explosive outburst.
The Prime Minister had also met President Pranab Mukherjee who had asked the government to clarify the urgent need to bring an ordinance that protects convicted MPs, MLAs and MLCs from disqualification.
The meeting of the Congress core group ahead of the Cabinet meet finalised the decision to withdraw the ordinance following which the Prime Minister spoke to the allies and informed them of the decision.
The Cabinet had on September 24 approved the ordinance which sought to negate the Supreme Court order of July 10 which ruled that any lawmaker would stand immediately disqualified if convicted by a court.