New Delhi: A war of words broke out between the BJP and the Congress Wednesday over the ordinance to protect convicted lawmakers from disqualification, with the ruling party accusing the opposition of doublespeak.
The Bharatiya Janata Party claimed that it was pressure from the opposition party rather than the outburst of Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi that has forced the government to review the ordinance.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said the BJP, during the all-party meeting, supported the ordinance and changed its stand after Rahul Gandhi raised the issue.
"In the business advisory committee meeting in the Rajya Sabha, they (BJP) had unanimously agreed to the ordinance and so it was introduced in the Rajya Sabha," he said.
Flashing a copy of the minutes of the meeting, Kamal Nath said: "It is unfortunate that ever since Rahul Gandhi raised the matter, the BJP has taken a different stand. This is the old style of the BJP, to say one thing in public and another in private."
Rahul Gandhi rubbished the ordinance Sep 27, saying that it was "complete nonsense" and should be "torn up and thrown away".
BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi countered Kamal Nath, saying: "It is BJP`s pressure, which has won. And it is the opinion of the people of this country".
"So it is not the initiative of Rahul Gandhi. It is the opinion of the Supreme Court, the people and the pressure exerted by the opposition, which has won," she said.
"BJP is not indulging in doublespeak. Today is the day of Gandhi Jayanti and the first teaching of Mahatma Gandhi was to speak the truth and they (Congress) have ignored this very teaching," Lekhi said.
The BJP spokesperson said that during the business advisory committee meeting both Kamal Nath and Finance Minister P. Chidambaram had agreed that this matter be referred to the standing committee. "Inspite of this agreement, they tried to push it in the Rajya Sabha," she said.
Lekhi said that Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitely has categorically said that the BJP was not in favour of any amendment to the constitution. "We had also gone to the president on this," she said.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Tuesday that he would not quit over the perceived undermining of his authority and that of his cabinet by Rahul Gandhi.