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Don't rush for ordinance on 'Office of Profit': Left

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi Mar 22 (UNI) Taking a serious view of the UPA government's reported move to bring in an ordinance to change the law pertaining to the 'office-of-profit', the Left parties today observed that such a move should be initiated only by the Joint Committee of Parliament on Office of Profit after a full- fledged political debate on it.

While the leader of the CPI(M) demanded that the Government come out with the ''actual position'' on the reported move, the leaders of the CPI, Forward Bloc and RSP asked the Manmohan Singh Government not to rush into promulgating an ordinance at this juncture when Parliament was in session.

However, all the the Left leaders charged the government with not displaying seriousness and urgency about certain issues, which deserved attention, particularly provision of social security for 370 million workers in the unorganised sector, deepening agrarian crisis and the Women Reservation Bill, during the first phase of the Budget Session of Parliament.

Earlier today, Opposition members in Parliament, drawing attention to a media report, frequently forced adjournment of the two Houses, protesting against the Centre's move to protect UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and other senior leaders by bringing in the ordinance on Office of Profit.

Violating parliamentary norms and to ensure that Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, along with several prominent MPs, including Dr Karan Singh and Somnath Chatterjee, escaped the Jaya Bachchan-type- disqualifications becuase they hold an 'office of profit', the Congress-led government was bringing an ordinance to change the law.

CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and Rajya Sabha member Ms Brinda Karat said, ''The goverment must come out with a statement and clarify all apsects associated with the issue.'' Stating that it was not wise for the party to comment on the press report, Ms Karat said, ''It will be wise on our part to first wait for all the details.'' On the priority areas that should have been touched during the Budget proceedings, she said the party wanted that basic issues deserved the top most priority of the government- the serious agrarian crisis that led to suicides by over 50,000 farmers in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab and other parts of the country.

The other serious issue, she pointed out towards, included the crisis in the Public Distribution System and lack of will for mobilising resources for pro-poor social projects by implementing the CMP in letter and spirit and acting upon the several proposals submitted by the Left to the UPA-Left Cordinatiton panel, in particular the increase in the corporate tax and raising the long term captial gain tax.

''But unfortunately neither in the answers to the Budget discussion and interventions in parlimanet, the government has bothered to address these issues,'' Ms Karat said.

On the government move to bring in an ordience, CPI General Secretary A B Bardhan said, ''The Joint Parliamentary Committee for the purpose in parliament should define, which are the offices of profit so as to ensure that the political parties do not indulge in one-upmanship and the offices of the president and the Election Commission are not unnecessarily dragged into.'' CPI national Secretary Shamim Faizi argued that after the Committee defined the 'office of profit', only then other actions should be thought of. Competition among the parties to involve each other's members is a futile ezxcercise.

Mr Faizi, endorsing Mr Bardhan's viewpoint, said without having proper classifications of Offices of Profit, ''the involvment of the President and the EC into political debate, will not be good for the health of polity.'' Mr Bardhan and Mr Faizi further pleaded that at this juncture there was no need to rush for ordinance when the Parliament was in session even during the recess.

On priority issues, Mr Faizi said the government did not fulfil its promises to introduce in the parliament the legislation to provide social security to over 370 million unorganised workers and adopt the Tribals Bill. ''Besides there is no sign of the Women's Reservation Bill, which is being continuously being set aside.'' The CPI leader argued that though the compulsions of assembly elections was there, yet the debate could have been properly organised.

Forward Bloc General Secretary and an MP Debabrata Biswas found the move ''unnecessary'' and asked the government to bring a new legisliaton in Parliament to ''redefine'' the ''office of the profit.'' through the ordinance route is not proper.

He said since the MPs and MLAs came from the social service or the cooperative sectors, they held offices of certain orgnisations. ''But when they get no salary, perks and remunerations, why should they be barred from holding the office.'' RSP leader and an MP said the government must not venture into bring in an ordinance when the Budget Session was on. ''If the government adjourn the session sine die, it will be unprecedented,'' he said.

UNI KSA SC PC1545

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