New Delhi: After strongly defending the controversial ordinance that seeks to protect convicted lawmakers, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari was Friday left searching for words when told that Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi had made statements tearing it down.
"I want to emphasise the main points of the ordinance.. what the Congress vice president has said about it I am not aware, once we come to know we will let you know," said an embarrassed Tewari when told by reporters that Gandhi had at a press conference said that the ordinance should, in his personal opinion, "be torn up and thrown away".
Earlier, Tewari came out in strong support of the ordinance that was cleared by the cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, on Tuesday.
Speaking at an event in Shastri Bhavan, almost across the road from where Gandhi was speaking at the Press Club, Tewari said the "contours of the ordinance need to be understood" and that it "envisages that in case a legislator is convicted by a court and a superior court decides to stay that conviction then that person will be allowed to attend house proceedings, but not draw salary or allowances.." He went on to say that the same principle is applied by the courts on deciding election petitions.
Rahul Gandhi, addressing an impromptu press conference, said the government was "wrong" in preparing an ordinance that seeks to save convicted lawmakers from disqualification and that, in his opinion, "it is completely nonsense and should be torn up and thrown away".
When a reporter asked Tewari to comment on some Congress leaders, including Milind Deora, too criticizing the ordinance that has drawn flak from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Tewari said that his "esteemed colleagues are very intelligent people" and he respects them a lot. He suggested that they read the ordinance closely and carefully.
--Indo-Asian News service