|Dr. Manmohan Singh, PM|
|Mr. Pranab Mukharjee, President|
In the mean time as I write this piece, I am told that there was a high drama at the Press Club of India on Raisina Road. Congress General Secretary Ajay Maken was there at ‘ Meet the Press’ programme of the Club. Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi learnt that Maken was defending the Ordinance on convicted MPs/MLAs. Rahul barged into the Club and took the mike. He declared that the ‘ordinance was completely a nonsense and it should be torn and thrown away”. A slap on the Prime Minister and the Law Minister of the government! I will react to this story in my next blog.
The proposed ordinance provides among other things that even if a Member of Parliament or State Legislature is convicted of crime and is sentenced for two years or more imprisonment, he or she shall not lose the Membership of the House. The Ordinance provides that such Member would not be able to cast vote when the House is put to division on any motion or debate and shall not be able to draw salary till the convicted Member is exonerated by higher court.
The general opinion is that Parliament draws its power and functions from Chapter 2 of the Indian Constitution. If a person is a Member of Parliament or State Legislature he or she can’t be debarred from voting in the Heouse as per the Constitutional provisions. How can an ordinance tamper with any provision of the Constitution? For any such conditional Membership of the House, tand he Constitution has to be amended first. For this the government requires two thirds majority in both Houses of Parliament to get the bill to amend the Constitution passed. With the BJP, the main Opposition in Parliament being against the Ordinance, the Government just can’t succeed in its immediate goal of shielding Lalu Yadav and Rasheed Masood who are facing trial and awaiting judgment soon.
The BJP which took the lead in opposing the ordinance route to mollify the Supreme Court decision on convicted MPs and MLAs now finds voices of support from the Congress Party. The latest to join the chorus of opposition against the proposed ordinance is Union Minister Milind Deora who has crticised the government for trying to bring in ordinance to protect criminal politicians. Deora has said in a statement, “..Legalities aside, allowing convicted MPs/MLAs to retain seats in the midst of an appeal can endanger already eroding public faith in democracy”.
Delhi chief minister Shiela Dixit too has come out against any such move by the government. She has her own reasons to oppose the government action that would reverse the Supreme Court verdict on convicted MPs/MLAs. In fact she spoke to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi telling the two leaders that the move will send “wrong message” to the people on eve of Assembly Elections. She is already facing anti-incumbency besides the growing ground support for the BJP has made the Delhi chief minister insecured as she fears to lose the elections.
~R. K. Sinha