Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: A day after Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi put Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the entire party in an embarrassing situation by rubbishing the ordinance on convicted lawmakers, spokesperson Rashid Alvi on Saturday came forward in a damage control mode.
While strongly backing Rahul Gandhi`s opinion on the controversial ordinance on disqualification of convicted lawmakers, Alvi today said, “Rahul ji didn`t say or suggested that the government should withdraw the ordinance."
Union minister Milind Deora termed the Congress VP`s criticism of the controversial ordinance that protects convicted lawmakers "healthy for democracy" and said there was nothing wrong in accepting and rectifying an error.
"It`s a healthy day for democracy in Congress, it`s a healthy day for democracy in UPA government and it`s a healthy day for democracy in India," Deora, Union Minister of State for Communication and IT, told reporters in Mumbai.
Deora was responding to questions about whether Congress and the UPA government were not on the same page on the Ordinance that prompted a strong criticism by Rahul.
Rahul Gandhi had yesterday rejected the ordinance on convicted lawmakers and had said, “The ordinance to save convicted legislators from disqualification is complete nonsense."
In a powerful intervention Rahul not only rejected the ordinace but also sealed the fate of the contentious legislation, embarrassed PM Manmohan Singh hours before his meeting with Barack Obama in Washington DC and publicly rebuked the party old guard.
"I`ll tell you what my opinion on the ordinance is. It`s complete nonsense. It should be torn up and thrown away. That is my personal opinion," Rahul had said, stunning his audience at a press meet where he made a surprise entry.
Meanwhile, after Rahul Gandhi slammed the ordinance, speculations are high that the Government may take back the controversial measure.
But at the same time, senior leaders now have to take care that if the ordinance is taken back it is done in such a method that the PM’s dignity is maintained.
While understanding the damage done to the credibility of the PM, in an e-mailed letter to Manmohan Singh, Rahul said he has the highest respect for him and looks up to him for his wisdom.
"You know that I have the highest respect for you and I look up to you for your wisdom. I have nothing but the greatest admiration for the manner in which you are providing leadership in extremely difficult circumstances," Rahul wrote in the letter.
UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi too sought to intervene in the matter and spoke to the PM last evening over phone, assuring the latter – who is in the US – of Congress party`s full support.
Top Congress leaders fall in line
Many other Congress leaders today backed Rahul`s opinion and said that he is the real representative of the mass who has expressed public anger.
General Secretary of All Indian Congress Committee Digvijay Singh praised Rahul Gandhi and tweeted that "Rahulji punctures the balloon of BJP`s double speak. It had agreed to the amendments in the All Party Meeting which are part of the ordinance."
Member of Indian National Congress Jyotiraditya Scindia also showed his support and said that `Rahul Gandhi`s decision on the ordinance is the party`s decision.`
Minister of State for Human Resource and Development Shashi Tharoor too joined Rahul Gandhi and tweeted `But now that my party VP has broken ranks, I`m delighted. I`d declined numerous invitations to defend the Ordinance. Let me say RG is right.`
Joining the Rahul brigade was Minister of State for Planning and Parlimentary affairs, Rajeev Shukla, who said: "We will support whatever Rahul Gandhi has said on ordinance to protect convicted netas."
Rahul trashed ordinance to salvage Congress image: BJP
The BJP on other hand dismissed, as "a well orchestrated political stunt to salvage the image of the party", Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi`s trashing of the ordinance to save convicted lawmakers from disqualification.
"Gandhi spoke against the ordinance after it had been condemned by all and President Pranab Mukherjee, to whom it has been sent for approval, questioned the reasons for issuing it," Bharatiya Janata Party`s former president M Venkaiah Naidu said.
Asked whether the ordinance was sought to be promulgated in a hurry to save former Bihar chief minister and Congress ally Lalu Prasad, he said "undoubtedly".
If ordinance was not issued before September 30 and "if there is a judgment negative against him, then he will lose his membership," Naidu said referring to fodder scam case which Lalu Prasad has been fighting.
BJP leaders-- Madhya Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Arun Jaitley-- maintained that Rahul`s intemperate criticism of the Ordinance "damaged" the dignity of the office of the Prime Minister.
"The comments made by Rahul Gandhi about the ordinance amounted to an insult of the Prime Minister and his council of ministers," Chouhan said in a statement in Bhopal.
After Rahul`s bombshell, will govt withdraw Ordinance?
After Rahul`s bombshell it is still to be decided that whether the Prime Minister will now withdraw the ordinance that seeks to negate a Supreme Court verdict that struck down the provision in the Representation of the People Act deferring disqualification of convicted lawmakers or not.
There has been an all-round attack on the issue of the ordinance cleared by the Cabinet on Tuesday with the civil society and others criticising the government for trying to protect convicted lawmakers.
Meanwhile, the ordinance has been sent to the President Pranab Mukherjee for his assent. The measure is aimed at giving a breather to MPs and MLAs who face immediate disqualification on their conviction in a criminal case with a jail term of two years or more.
The move was initiated in the wake of a two-month-old Supreme Court verdict which ruled that an MP, an MLA or an MLC would stand disqualified immediately if convicted by a court for crimes with punishment of two years or more.
The government had moved the apex court for a review earlier this month which was rejected.
With PTI inputs