Opposition on Saturday sought to drive a wedge between the Prime Minister and Rahul Gandhi, saying the young leader's remarks on Anna Hazare's fast has "poured cold water" on the statesmanship of Manmohan Singh.
"Was Rahul Gandhi's speech a Zero Hour intervention or an address to the nation," asked Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj while initiating a day-long debate in the Lok Sabha on the issues relating to the setting up of a Lokpal.
The debate was held on a day when Hazare's fast entered the 12th day and finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, whose statement formed the basis of the discussion, made a renewed appeal to the Gandhian to end the hunger strike.
Swaraj insisted that Rahul's remarks were the line of the Congress party which "poured cold water on the statesmanship displayed by the Prime Minister on the floor of the House" a couple of days back in a bid to end the impasse.
Amid objections and protests from Congress members, Swaraj also took a dig at Speaker Meira Kumar who was in the Chair, for allowing Gandhi to speak for so long while other members are restricted to just three to five minutes during the Zero Hour.
Unruffled by the protests including an objection by Minister Srikant Jena, Swaraj accused the government of failing to come up with a resolution or a statement by a senior minister on Friday which could have facilitated a debate straight away. This, she said, was because the government was not ready to make a commitment on the Lokpal issue.