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Sonia will be back for debate

THE EC'S decision to hold by-elections to the Rae Bareli Lok Sabha seat on May 8, primarily to avoid peak summers, may help Congress president Sonia Gandhi re-enter Parliament in time for the passage of a new law on offices of profit.

india Updated: Apr 04, 2006 01:46 IST

But no bypolls for seats vacated by stung MPs

THE EC'S decision to hold by-elections to the Rae Bareli Lok Sabha seat on May 8, primarily to avoid peak summers, may help Congress president Sonia Gandhi re-enter Parliament in time for the passage of a new law on offices of profit.

The counting of votes for Rae Bareli — and Rajasthan's Deeg assembly segment — will take place on May 11, a day after the opening of Parliament's May 10-23 session. As a result, Sonia may participate in the debate and vote on the legislation, the passage of which may also pave the way for her return as chairperson of the National Advisory Council.

The EC's Monday announcement came within hours of the Supreme Court's denial of permission to hold by-elections in May to the 10 Lok Sabha seats held by MPs expelled in the wake of the cash-for-queries scam. From the poll panel's standpoint, the order delinked Rae Bareli from the constituencies represented by the expelled MPs.

Sonia had resigned her Rae Bareli seat on March 23 in response to the opposition's charges that Parliament was undermined to secure her membership of the House.

For its part, the government is still in the process of building a political consensus on the legislation's fine print. Sources said the easiest option before Parliament was to add new offices of profit to the 'exempt list' under the Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1959. About the suggestion that Parliament bring an omnibus law defining an office of profit, the sources said it might require a Constitutional amendment.