National Advisory Council is back with Sonia Gandhi as chairperson holding the rank of Cabinet Minister. In effect she will be Super Prime Minister.
Sonia Gandhi was chairperson of National Advisory Council after UPA came to power in 2004 and she had to resign in 2006 following office of profit controversy. Congress had targeted Jaya Bachchan for office of profit and had her disqualified. Then Sonia Gandhi’s post came under scrutiny. After resignation as chairperson and MP Sonia Gandhi contested the election and became MP again. Law was amended to exempt 56 posts as offices of profit. President APJ Abdul Kalam had returned the bill to Parliament for reconsideration. Parliament had passed it again but Sonia Gandhi did not become the chairperson. National Advisory Council lost its importance and after two years ceased to exist. Now National Advisory Council is revived.
MPs can become members of National Advisory Council but they cannot draw any perk, allowance or remuneration from the Council other than compensatory allowance. It is possible that rules will change in future and MPs will be allowed to draw perk, allowance or remuneration from the Council.
If Sonia Gandhi wants to exercise power she should become Prime Minister. National Advisory Council is not necessary. Decisions should be taken by the cabinet. National Advisory Council is not a constitutional body. Its advice will mean order.
If Congress thinks L. K. Advani’s position as Deputy Prime Minister was unconstitutional and therefore a justification for National Advisory Council it should remember Vallabhbhai Patel and Morarji Desai who were Deputy Prime Ministers in Congress governments. In Maharashtra the Congress-NCP government has a Deputy Chief Minister.
Over the years many posts have been taken out of purview of office of profit. This must stop and be reversed.
The good that is said to have happened due to the Council should have happened through cabinet. Right to Information Act is said to have been drafted by the Council. NGOs and others who have ideas for good governance should take them to ministers.