Cabinet u-turn on ordinance was 'theatre of the absurd': BJP

New Delhi, Oct. 2 (ANI): Lashing out at the Union Cabinet for doing a u-turn on the ordinance and Bill on convicted lawmakers, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday took credit for ensuring that democracy prevailed in the country since they had earlier rejected the Bill in the Monsoon Session of Parliament, and urged President Pranab Mukherjee not to sign the ordinance.

"This was the theater of the absurd," BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

" I am happy and proud that the opposition (BJP) has ensured that the flag of the democracy flies high," Prasad added.

Prasad continued his attack on the UPA-led Centre, and said that the Cabinet's u-turn was proof to the Gandhi family's hold over the government, after Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi had deemed the ordinance as 'nonsense' despite being approved by the Cabinet earlier.

"In this government, the Prime Minister and the Cabinet is not important. The dynasty is important," Prasad said.

Soon after the Cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's residence earlier this evening, commenting on Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi's public remark of deeming the ordinance as 'nonsense', Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said that the UPA government had reconsidered the ordinance and the Bill because it respects the diversity of opinions within the party, and added that the final decision of the Cabinet did not show Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh in bad light.

"We respect the diversity of youth, the Vice President of Congress articulated his view. ... This (The Cabinet decision) sends a message that UPA has a Government which is not authoritative," Tewari said.

"There is no question of undermining the authority of the Prime Minister. UPA government is not authoritarian in nature," he added.

After taking the legal viewpoint on the ordinance and the Bill into consideration, it has been decided that the process of withdrawing the Bill will be taken up during the Winter Session of Parliament.

According to television and other media reports, the Cabinet met for about 20-25 minutes this evening, and decided to send a formal letter to the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha soon with a request to withdraw the Bill.

The Cabinet meeting was held at the 7 Race Course Road official residence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Prior to the meeting, Prime Minister Singh met President Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan here for almost an hour on Wednesday, and reportedly briefed him about the Congress Core Group's latest decision on the controversial ordinance on convicted parliamentarians.

The Congress Core Group, it maybe recalled, decided to withdraw the ordinance. The meeting of the Congress Core Group was attended by the Prime Minister, party chief Sonia Gandhi, Ahmed Patel and others. Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and Defence Minister A.K. Antony were not present at the meeting.

The meeting of the Congress Core Group was significant in wake of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi's very public and negative outburst against the ordinance.

Rahul Gandhi met the Prime Minister for about 25 minutes this morning. This was the Prime Minister's first interaction with Rahul Gandhi after his return from U.S.

Dr. Singh, who returned yesterday after his five-day visit to the United States, said there is no question of him resigning from office.

"I have seen Rahul Gandhi's statement. He has written to me on this subject also, and, let me say, that when issues are raised in a democracy, in a democratic polity, the right course is to start with trying to understand what is agitating the minds of the concerned people. When I go back, I will discuss these matters with Mr. Rahul Gandhi. He has asked for a meeting with me, and, I will also take my Cabinet colleagues into confidence. We will see which way the wind blows," Dr. Singh said onboard Air India One.

When specifically asked to respond to the opposition's demand that he should have resigned from office immediately after Gandhi's criticism of the ordinance while he was abroad, Dr. Singh said: "Well, there is no question of resigning. I said I will put all these issues before my Cabinet colleagues. These are all matters which are discussed before the highest body, the core group of the Congress Party. The Cabinet discussed this matter twice, not once. But, it is always possible to change one's mind, and, I will consult my colleagues on all these issues," he added.

In a major embarrassment to the ruling UPA, Rahul Gandhi had earlier on September 27 dubbed the ordinance to negate the Supreme Court verdict on convicted lawmakers as 'complete nonsense', and said it should be torn up and thrown away.

"I personally think what the government is doing on the ordinance is wrong. It was a political decision, every party does it, and there is a time to stop this nonsense," Gandhi had said in New Delhi. (ANI)

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