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Will Pranab sign ordinance on convicted legislators or embarrass the govt?


Pallavi Ghosh,CNN-IBN
Sep 25, 2013 at 10:58pm IST

New Delhi: Just a day after the Cabinet approved an ordinance bailing out convicted MPs and MLAs, the UPA government is finding itself isolated and cornered as most of the political parties have come together and demanded that President Pranab Mukherjee must not sign it. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sushma Swaraj has tweeted that she'll meet the President on halting the ordinance.

"Why are they always in a hurry of ordinances," said BJP leader Mukhtar Naqvi.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) will also challenge it in the Supreme Court. "We appeal to the President not to sign the ordinance," said Arvind Kejriwal.

"What is the urgency for going for an ordinances," asked CPI leader D Raja.

Former Congress leader Pranab, who was once a trouble shooter for the government, could now put the UPA government into a trouble if he refuses to sign the ordinance on the ground of principle.

Though the Congress has defended the timing of the ordinance, there are dissenting note within the party. Congress leader Digvijaya Singh said that an ordinance could have been avoided now. "In such contentious issues of political leaders, it is better to bring about the political consensus rather than bringing an ordinance," Digvijaya said.

All eyes are on Pranab now that will he sign the ordinance or not. There have been instances in the past when a president had returned an ordinance.

Former president APJ Abdul Kalam Azad had in 2002 returned an ordinance, which the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government had moved to counter the Supreme Court ruling that all candidates must give their background. Former President KR Narayanan had also asked the government to review an ordinance calling for President's rule in Bihar. If Pranab follows his predecessors, it could embarrass the government.

However, if the government still decides to push it, the President will have two options. Under Article 74, he will have to approve a proposal reiterated by the Council of Ministers and he can also refer it to the Supreme Court if the ordinance is clearly violative of the fundamental rights and contrary to Article 13 of the Constitution.

Meanwhile, many within the ruling Congress feel that the government had made a mistake by pushing this ordinance at a time when the image of the government is at a low. Battling with the charges of corruption, the Congress will now have to face political posturing by the Opposition especially the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has accused it of shielding criminals. Though, at an all party meet there was a political consensus over a bill to give a right to appeal to the convicted political leaders.

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