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Left parties demand legislation on disqualification act

By Super

New Delhi, Mar 23: Terming ''unfortunate'' the 'Office of Profit' episode which cost the Samajwadi party's Ms Jaya Bachchan her Rajya sabha membership, the Left parties today pressed for an immediate legislation by the Parliament to put certain offices held by the MPs out of the purview of the Disqualification Act.

The CPI(M), CPI and the RSP stressed the UPA government should decide how it wanted to go about it and work out constitutional modalities to achieve the end. They urged the Centre to take all the political parties into confidence to resolve the deadlock, which led to the adjournment of both Houses of the Parliament sine die, even as certain business remained unfinished.

While the CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechuri advocated that the Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1959 needed to be ''corrected,'' the CPI accused the Congress of allowing ''such an unsavoury situation'' to develop. The RSP and Forward Bloc made it clear that they were not in favour of bringing about an ordinance for the purpose.

Mr Yechuri released a party Polit Bureau statement to the newspersons, here, which analysed and reviewed the whole issue. But he was evasive over specific queries regarding party's ''belated'' reaction to Jaya Bachchan episode, party's stand over the proposed ordinance and the ''re-convening'' of the Parliament as the Budget session had been scrapped abruptly.

''It is imperative that Parliament immediately take up this issue and adopt necessary legislation so that disqualification under the' office of profit' of Article 102 of the Constitution is not applied sweepingly and indiscriminately,'' the statement said.

Stating that the Constitution was empowered to decide on the definition of an ''office of Profit'' and to exempt the concerned clause, the CPI(M) is of the view that Parliament should immediately undertake legislation in order to put certain offices held by the members outside the purview of the 'office of profit', until a comprehensiv definition could be evolved, the statement added.

Another Polit Bureau member emphasised that since it was a substantial issue which could be decided by Parliament, the government had to take an initiative in this regard.

CPI General Secretary A B Bardhan said yesterday's developments gave enough signal that the government had decided to promulgate an Ordinance on the office of profit. ''The whole controversy over the episode being held by the elected representatives and subsequent disqualification of one Rajya Sabha member from Uttar Pradesh shows how partisan politics leads to consequences that recoils on those who play such games,'' he said.

CPI national secretary Shamim Faizi said the Congress party has to share the blame for the current unsavoury situation. ''In such a situation attempts should have been made to clearly define which is an office of profit and which is not. Unfortunately, when a complaint against Jaya Bachchan came up, the Congress leadership instead of taking measures to ensure proper guidelines on the issue, allowed certain elements to take sadistic pleasure on the discomfiture faced by the Samajwadi MP,'' Mr Faizi said.

The ''unjustified'' disqualification of Jaya Bachchan has opened a Pandora's box. Various bourgeois parties started offensive and counter offensive in which two Constitutional institutions -- the President and Election Commission -- were unnecessarily dragged in.

The imbroglio has led to the current situation in which the Budget Session of Parliament had to be abruptly adjourned. The Congress was caught on a wrong foot when the UP Legislature passed a Bill on office of profit, he said.

It was the BJP which had used the practice of pacifying the disgruntled elements by offering them posts that now are being labelled as office of profit, the CPI leader added.

RSP leader Abani Roy stressed that the MPs, being people's representatives, hold offices which help them to serve the people.

''Thus, it becomes necesary for them to continue their responsibilities as a social worker, after being elected, though without accepting any salary, perks or remuneration.'' ''We are not in favour of an ordinance..While we condemn the manner in which the Budget session was ended, we urge the UPA goverment to take steps to enact a new law or amend the existing one to 'redefine' the office of profit which exempt the PSUs and the private sector from the purview of the Office of profit,'' the RSP leader said.

Forward Bloc General Secretary and MP Debvrat Biswas pleaded that it would not be proper to bring all positions the MPs held becuase of their association with social service, under the office of profit.

He said that it was unfortunate that Mrs Bachchan had been disqualified under the existing law.


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