New Delhi: In a major embarrassment to the UPA government, Rahul Gandhi on Friday denounced the controversial ordinance to negate the Supreme Court verdict on convicted lawmakers as "complete nonsense" and said what "our government has done is wrong".

Rahul Gandhi, incidentally, gatecrashed a press conference that was being addressed by Congress spokesperson and media department head Ajay Maken at the Press Club where he was defending the Ordinance. Rahul said that the Ordinance should be 'torn up and thrown away'.

"Now, I will tell you what my opinion is. It is a complete nonsense. It should be torn up and thrown away. It is my personal opinion," he said.

“The arguments given in ‘my organization’ is that we need to do this because of political considerations. Everybody is doing this. The Congress does this, the BJP does this, the Samajwadi Party and the JD(U) do this,” he said.

"It is time to stop this nonsense. If you want to fight corruption, whether it is Congress party or BJP, we cannot continue making these small compromises. Because we make these small compromises, we compromise everywhere,” he said.

"I am interested in what the Congress party is doing and what our government is doing," he said and left the venue.

President seeks clarification over ‘urgency’ of Ordinance

On Thursday, President Pranab Mukherjee had raised questions over the need for an Ordinance on convicted lawmakers by calling three ministers and seeking the rationale behind it. Mukherjee had called Home Minister and Leader of the House in Lok Sabha Sushilkumar Shinde, Law Minister Kapil Sibal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath and asked them to explain the need for an Ordinance on an issue that has come under attack from mainstream Opposition parties and civil society.

The President is said to be not in a hurry to give his assent to the Ordinance and may take legal opinion from experts before he take a decision. He can send the Ordinance back to the government for re-consideration and shall act in accordance with the advice tendered by the government after such consideration.

The Supreme Court had on July 10 ruled that an MP or an MLA would stand disqualified immediately if convicted by a court for crimes with punishment of two years or more. To negate the Apex Court order, the government moved to amend the law and brought the Representation of the People (Second Amendment) Bill, 2013 in Rajya Sabha during the Monsoon Session. However, the bill could not be passed.

BJP opposes Ordinance route

Terming the Ordinance on convicted MPs and MLAs as "immoral and unconstitutional", BJP on Thursday said that President Pranab Mukherjee is not "duty-bound" to give assent to it and suggested to him that he should send it back to the government.

BJP leader LK Advani, Sabha Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley met Mukherjee and submitted to him a memorandum on the issue and requested him to refer it back to the government.

In the memorandum, BJP has pointed out that a Bill on the issue is pending in the Rajya Sabha and has been referred by the Chairperson to a Standing Committee. "What was the urgency that the government to bring this legislation through the ordinance route? The only compelling reason for bypassing Parliament and taking the ordinance route is to help a class of tainted politicians who have been already convicted or are apprehensive of a court judgement in near future," the memorandum said.

REACTIONS

Arun Jaitley, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha: After this statement, the  Prime Minister and his Cabinet should think about their self-respect.

Meenakshi Lekhi, BJP spokesperson: Congress is known to speak on multiple voices. Our leaders had met the President and urged him to return it to the government. The timing of the entire episode indicates that what had happened behind closed doors. This step is a face saver for Congress.

Arvind Kejriwal, Aam Aadmi Party leader: Rahul Gandhi thinks that people of this country are ‘bewakoof’ (fool). First, the Congress party brings the Ordinance and later Rahul Gandhi says tear apart it. We say throw away the people who brought this Ordinance.

Jagdambika Pal, Congress leader: Rahul Gandhi has mentioned about party's line. He has expressed party's view.

Rajiv Shukla, Congress leader: We are with Rahul Gandhi

(JPN/Agencies)

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