New Delhi : The Congress plans to put Prime Minister Modi in a spot by defeating his very first act of an ordinance issued two days after assuming office to appoint retired TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) chairman Nripendra Misra as his principal secretary.

The ordinance was brought to amend a clause in the TRAI Act that debars any post-retirement job to the TRAI chairman. The ordinance lapses unless a Bill is passed during the current session of Parliament and it is here that the Congress sensed an opportunity to put Modi in a spot.

Congress has the strength of 68 MPs in the Rajya Sabha while other opposition parties may also rally around it to block the Bill whenever it comes up for consideration. The ruling BJP has only 44 members in the House and, as such, it has to bank on the Opposition’s support to get any legislative business passed.

Former Union minister Anand Sharma, who is the Congress deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha, says the party will prevent the passage of the Bill as a matter of principle that the government should not have taken the ordinance route just for the appointment of a former bureaucrat in utter disregard to parliamentary and democratic norms.

“The BJP had objected to the ordinances we brought for food security and anti-corruption law that were rather in public interest and hence it is now our turn to question the urgency to appoint an officer through this ordinance,” he said.

Misra’s appointment will have to be rescinded if the Bill is defeated unless Modi decides to call a joint session of Parliament to get the Bill passed.

When Modi had zeroed on Misra, a retired IAS officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre, to head his PMO (Prime Minister’s office), he was told that the bureaucrat was ineligible for appointment because of the infirmity he suffers from the TRAI Act.

Modi, however, persisted his choice and called the law ministry to draft the ordinance to overturn the law. Sources say the ordinance was promulgated even without the Cabinet’s clearance.

 Misra was picked up by Modi because of his integrity and leadership skills, sources said.

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