India's ruling party withdraws controversial ordinance

Before India's PM could return from New York, Congress Party VP Rahul went public, terming the ordinance "complete nonsense"

India's ruling party withdraws controversial ordinance

World Bulletin/News Desk

India's ruling Congress Party has decided to withdraw a controversial ordinance allowing convicted lawmakers to remain in office following bitter – and public – criticism of the decree by Rahul Gandhi, party vice-president and scion of the prominent Gandhi family, local media reported on Wednesday.

The Congress Party's core group, which earlier this morning met to discuss the issue, has decided to withdraw the ordinance, according to Indian news channel 'Times Now,' which is owned by the Times of India Group.

Citing what it described as "top sources" within the party's core group, the channel reported that the decision to revoke the ordinance had already been taken.

The Congress Party-led government is expected to announce the decision after a party meeting this evening, the sources said, describing the announcement as a mere "formality."

Earlier today, Rahul met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for 25 minutes at the latter's official residence.

Rahul reportedly apologized for the timing and language of his recent criticisms of the contentious ordinance, according to English-language news channel NDTV.

Rahul clarified that his intention was not to undermine the authority of Singh or his cabinet, while also stressing his opposition to the ordinance.

Rahul had formally complained to Singh in a letter expressing his reservations about the decree when the premier was in New York to attend a UN General Assembly meeting.

Before Singh could return from New York and respond to the letter, Rahul went public, terming the ordinance "complete nonsense" that should be "torn up and thrown away."

After his meeting with Rahul, the prime minister met with the Congress Party's core group, with which he reportedly discussed the possible review and withdrawal of the ordinance.

After the two meetings, Singh reportedly drove to Rashtrapati Bhavan to meet President Pranab Mukherjee, who is said to have also expressed grave reservations about the executive order.

The government had earlier sent the ordinance to Mukherjee for approval.

The president has the right to reject the executive order or send it back to the cabinet for further review.

Congress Party leader and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath, meanwhile, slammed the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for its "doublespeak" regarding the ordinance.

He said that the right-wing BJP had supported the ordinance at a meeting of the business advisory committee in the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of India's parliament.

"The BJP had unanimously agreed to the ordinance, and so it was introduced in the Rajya Sabha," the minister said, flashing a copy of the meeting minutes.

"It is unfortunate that ever since Rahul Gandhi raised the matter, the BJP has taken a different stand," he asserted. "This is the old style of the BJP's functioning – to say one thing in public and another in private."

Güncelleme Tarihi: 02 Ekim 2013, 14:31

Muhammed Öylek