Cong panel backed bid to disqualify convicted MPs, party rejected it
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A high-level committee on electoral reforms, set up by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, supported the Supreme Court ruling on the disqualification of MPs and MLAs immediately upon conviction, only for the party high command to remove this recommendation while sending its suggestions to the Law Commission of India.
The key recommendation, it is learnt, was dropped given a considered view in the top echelons of the ruling party that an "idealist stance" could displease its present and prospective alliance partners at a time when the Congress is heading into the next general elections with little hope of gaining a majority on its own.
The six-member panel headed by AICC general secretary and former union minister Ambika Soni had recommended that MPs and MLAs should be disqualified immediately upon conviction, as ordered by the apex court in July. While the Centre has filed a review petition in the court, it is also preparing to bring a constitutional amendment to nullify the SC order and ensure that an MP or MLA is not disqualified pending an appeal against conviction.
While the entire political class got together to oppose the court's ruling, the Congress panel struck a discordant note. It submitted 31 recommendations and all except one concerning immediate disqualification upon conviction were accepted by the party leadership.
The six-member committee included Petroleum Minister Veerappa Moily, former union ministers M S Gill and Mani Shankar Aiyar, party MP E M S Natchiappan and Mohan Gopal, director of the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Contemporary Studies and a close aide of party vice-president Rahul Gandhi.