The unease in the Congress is increasing with the rise in foot-in-the-mouth syndrome among its ministers in UPA government’s second term.
The latest in the series of internal squabbling within the UPA 2 came from Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, who was critical of the Home Ministry’s approach towards Chinese companies.
Though Ramesh was reprimanded for his remark Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, it has left a worried Congress scurrying for a quick remedy to cure this phenomenon.
“This is too much. It's happening too often and gives a bad name to the government and the party,” said a senior Congress functionary. “These ministers seem to have gone out of control in their conduct.”
As a first step to rein in such ministers, the party has asked them to observe restraint while speaking on certain issues.
“It is not expected from a minister to publicly comment on government policies, on other ministries, and on relations with foreign countries,” Congress media head Janardan Dwivedi said.
A section in the party believes that these “loose cannons” could be controlled only by tough measures on the part of the Prime Minister and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
“They get emboldened by the fact that there is a Prime Minister, who is very nice and gentle. They try to take advantage of his innate decency,” said another key party functionary.
However, such a phenomenon is seen more in UPA 2 as compared to its previous term.
Congress leaders attribute this to “six years of fatigue” of the UPA rule.
“These are essentially irrepressible characters within the Congress who are getting fed up with some old guards in the government. The outbursts are the manifestation of that frustration,” said a senior leader.
Another leader said such frequent public and sometimes not so public face-offs have put the Congress in an embarrassing position and given a fodder to the opposition to attack the government on different fronts.