Inching towards withdrawal of the controversial ordinance meant to protect convicted lawmakers, Congress leaders including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and party chief Sonia Gandhi grappled to work out a face saver at a party core group meeting on Wednesday.
The consultations, to be followed by a meeting of the Union Cabinet in the evening, came in the wake of a huge political
storm after Rahul Gandhi trashed the ordinance publically as “complete nonsense”.
Meanwhile, according to a CNN-IBN report, the Prime Minister has told the allies that the ordinance on convicted lawmakers will be withdrawn.
The ordinance aims to circumvent a Supreme Court order disqualifying convicted legislators by letting them stay in office while they appeal in a higher court.
After the hour-long Congress core group meeting headed by Sonia Gandhi, party sources said all pros and cons were discussed and a decision was left to the Union Cabinet.
A party insider with information about the deliberations said the government is mulling over whether to withdraw the ordinance -- which was sent to President Pranab Mukherjee after the Cabinet had cleared it -- or ask the President to exercise his pocket veto and sit over it.
Soon after the meeting, which was also attended by home minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Gandhi's political aide Ahmed Patel, the Prime Minister met the President at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Mukherjee also reportedly has reservations over the ordinance. The hectic parleys began with Rahul Gandhi calling on the Prime Minister in the morning and holding one-to-one interaction during which the Congress vice president explained his reasons for denouncing the ordinance.
Though Singh told reporters on Tuesday that he does not get "upset easily", he had indicated his unease and said he would try to find out the reason why Rahul made a public statement and "why it had to be done that way".
"I am not the master of what people say. It has happened and as I said when I go back I will try to find the reason why it happened that way and how do we handle it," he had said.
Meanwhile, a senior party leader speaking on the condition of anonymity said that it is not necessary that a decision is taken immediately after the Cabinet meeting as it could give an impression of the Prime Minister's authority being eroded.
The matter may also be deferred for a view by the UPA Coordination Committee after the Cabinet makes up its mind, the leader said. There is also a view in the party that the "Ordinance is now history" after Gandhi's carping criticism of it.
Video: Cong may withdraw ordinance on convicted lawmakers