Rahul tears ordinance and the PM
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In a major embarrassment for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his cabinet colleagues, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi Friday chose to publicly castigate the UPA government for issuing an ordinance to negate the Supreme Court order on disqualifying convicted MPs and MLAs, terming it as "complete nonsense" that should be "torn and thrown out".
The move, Congress strategists said, may help Rahul to distance himself from the UPA government's perceived omissions and commissions and go to the electorate with a clean image. But in the process, it delivered a blow to the image of the government as also that of Congress president Sonia Gandhi who was a part of the Congress core group meeting last Saturday which cleared the ordinance proposal.
However, shortly after his surprise outburst at a press conference that was being addressed by the party's communications department chairman Ajay Maken, Rahul was learnt to have sent a letter to the PM saying that his comments had been made on the spur of the moment but also that he strongly believed in what he had said.
Rahul's intervention came a day after President Pranab Mukherjee had summoned the law minister, the home minister and the parliamentary affairs minister and was learnt to have asked them what the government would do if the Supreme Court struck the ordinance down.
The ministers, sources said, had come back late in the evening to discuss the matter with Sonia Gandhi and it was decided that the Cabinet should reconsider the ordinance after the Prime Minister's return and withdraw it.
While Rahul was not part of these discussions, he chose to make a dramatic intervention today as he walked into Maken's press conference at the Press Club. He said that before coming there, he had spoken to Maken who gave him a political line about the ordinance that "everybody will give you, the Congress will give you, the BJP will give you". "My opinion on the ordinance is that it is complete nonsense. I think it should be torn up and thrown out. That is my opinion. My personal opinion on the ordinance. I will repeat it for you. My opinion on the ordinance is that it should be torn up and thrown away."