UPA sees profit in shelving the Bill

New Delhi, March 24 | Updated: Mar 25 2006, 05:30am hrs
The Congress, clearly upbeat on profiting from party chief Sonia Gandhis renunciation from the office of chairperson of the National Advisory Council and also the Rae Bareli seat, shelved any plans to promulgate an Ordinance on the issue of office of profit.

This left the Left parties and the BJP, which were demanding that a proper Bill be tabled in Parliament, appear desperate as they wanted the Houses to be reconvened at the earliest. Especially after the Election Commission (EC) admitted that it had received several more notices.

But parliament affairs minister Priyaranjan Das Munsi categorically said that the UPA government was not planning to table either an ordinance or a legislation on the contentious issue of office of profit.

Meanwhile, breaking his silence, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee rejected demands for his resignation maintaining that he was not holding any office of profit nor had he violated any provisions of the Constitution.

The EC said, on Friday, that it had received a petition for his disqualification made by the Trinamul Congress, whose leader Mamata Banerjee had demanded his resignation.

Chief election commissioner BB Tandon told reporters that petitions have also been received against Rajya Sabha members Karan Singh, T Subbirami Reddy and Kapila Vatsyayanan (all Congress), Lok Sabha member Chandrapal Singh Yadav (SP) and Anuradha Choudhary (RLD).

He said a TDP petition against Congress president Sonia Gandhi has also been received. Observing that all petitions lacked relevant information, he said that the Commission would be seeking information from them.

However, realising that Ms Gandhis Supreme Sacrifice Part-2 had covered up not only the Congress-led governments bungling in adjourning the Parliament sine die but deflected the Oppositions charges, the party managers were busy chalking out strategies to make hay while Sonia shone.

One of the top priorities was in using the new exuberance in having the Assembly elections, especially in Kerala and Assam, swing in its favour. With a deal being sewn up with the DIC-K, led by K Karunakaran, in Kerala, the party strategists did not want to miss this opportunity in the state. The Left parties also began making amends by allowing its leader Achutanand contest the polls.

The Congress also feels that this was the opportune time to revitalise its prospects in Uttar Pradesh which is scheduled to go to polls in February 2007. This is in line with Ms Gandhis plans to contest again from Rae Bareli.

But Ms Gandhi did not want her party MPs to get emotional over her resignation from the Lok Sabha and follow suit. Ms Gandhi stated this to a number of leaders, including MPs, who thronged to her 10, Janpath residence to express solidarity.