In an embarrassment to the United Progressive Alliance, voices of dissent emerged from within the Congress over the government's decision to bring an ordinance on convicted lawmakers with Union Minister Milind Deora today apprehending that the move "can endanger already eroding public faith in democracy".
Deora is the second Congress leader after party General Secretary Digvijay Singh to have expressed his reservation on the promulation of the ordinance to undo a Supreme Court judgment and protect MPs and MLAs who face immediate disqualification on their conviction in a criminal case with a jail term of two years or more.
"Legalities aside allowing convicted MPs/MLAs 2 retain seats in the midst of an appeal can endanger already eroding public faith in democracy," Deora commented on the microblogging site Twitter.
Singh had on Wednesday maintained that it would have been better had there been a political consensus on the ordinance issue.
"...In such controversial matters, it is always better to bring about a political consensus rather than pushing through an ordinance," Singh had remarked as the Bharatiya Janata Party mounted an attack on the government, saying its decision to promulgate an ordinance on convicted MPs is an attempt to make "cheats, frauds, murderers" and the likes lawmakers.
Party spokesperson Raj Babbar, who had on Wednesday dismissed the opposition criticism saying that the ordinance is aimed at "protecting the dignity of the Constitution", stuck to his guns.
Babbar argued that if an MP or MLA is disqualified on the basis of court conviction and a new member is elected from the constituency, there could be a problem later if a higher court absolves the earlier court’s order. He also denied individuals are being protected through the measure.