UPA eyes ordinance route to pass 6 anti-graft Bills
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New Delhi: The Congress party-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government is all set to pass half-a-dozen anti-graft legislation through ordinances and, according to a person familiar with the development, the move could happen this week.
The cabinet may clear the ordinances on the anti-corruption Bills at its meeting this week, the person said. The draft laws are being pushed by party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who is leading the ruling party’s campaign for the general election.
The Bills are: the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, the Whistle Blowers Protection Bill, the Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, the Prevention of Bribery of Foreign Public Officials and Officials of Public International Organisations Bill, the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill and the Public Procurement Bill, 2012.
The Whistle Blowers Protection Bill was passed by Parliament on 21 February.
Gandhi has said these laws are essential to fight corruption and that the government will bring them through ordinances if needed. The UPA government, which has been sitting on the Bills for more than two years, tried to get them passed in the extended winter session that concluded on 21 February, but could not.
Gandhi’s Congress and the UPA government have been under fire over a slew of corruption scandals involving some of its leaders. While the issue of corruption and the rising prices of essential commodities have dented the popularity of the UPA, which has been in power since 2004, the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party is projected to have a clear edge in opinion polls ahead of the Lok Sabha election due by May.
Meanwhile, the Congress party vice-president on Tuesday launched a direct attack on the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi after resisting such an attack for almost two months. Targeting Modi at a rally in Guwahati, Gandhi said, “People who say they will change India in three months are making mockery of all of you... There are leaders who want to usurp the people’s power. I am not such a leader.”
“BJP’s leaders talk about Hindutva, but they haven’t read Gita. Gita says respect everybody, work with love, not ego,” Gandhi said.
He admitted changes needed to be introduced in his own party. “There is a need to bring change in the party and we will do it fast. The first step in this direction is to make the selection of candidates from among the people,” Gandhi said.
Gandhi said the party selected candidates through primaries in some constituencies, Guwahati being one of them.
“Soon the process would be extended to more and more constituencies. In future, I want all candidates of the party to be elected through elections. Anybody can aspire to contest the elections within the party and so people from all sections can be part of the selection process,” Gandhi said. He said the party needs to give more power to the people, particularly to women. “In the next five years, we will strive for 50% representation for women in Parliament and all assemblies,” he said.
N. Bhaskara Rao, a New Delhi-based political analyst, said bringing anti-graft Bills through an ordinance route was mainly to “keep the word” of the Congress vice-president.
“Ordinance route should not be thought about at this point of time. Even in normal situations, ordinance route is not correct to bring legislation and this is an extraordinary situation where national polls can be announced any time,” he said, while adding that there would be no time for the Union government to implement these bills.