Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday morning and explained his dramatic rejection of the ordinance to protect convicted legislators, but also stood firm on his position that the law must be withdrawn. He also told Singh he had meant no disrespect.
The meeting came a day after the PM’s return from the US. Interacting with mediapersons on the flight back, Singh had wondered why Gandhi had done what he did, and said he would take it up when they met.
Sources in the prime minister’s office declined comment on the conversation between Gandhi and PM, saying it was private.
Gandhi apparently explained the timing of his intervention, saying it wasn’t prudent to wait any longer as the Congress was losing the battle of public perception. Before his outburst on Friday — when he termed the cabinet-approved ordinance “complete nonsense” — President Pranab Mukherjee had raised questions about it; any further move by the President would have made Gandhi’s position redundant subsequently.
The Congress vice-president also told the PM that a large section within the Congress was opposed to the government move. A day after the September 24 cabinet meeting that approved the ordinance to reverse a recent Supreme Court judgment mandating immediate disqualification of convicted lawmakers, party general secretary Digvijaya Singh had struck a discordant note, saying such decisions should be taken by political consensus rather than by the ordinance route. Senior leader Anil Shastri, too, had expressed displeasure with the move.
Two days later, union minister Milind Deora had tweeted, “Legalities aside, allowing convicted MPs/MLAs 2 retain seats in the midst of an appeal can endanger already eroding public faith in democracy.”
And hours before Gandhi dropped his bomb on Friday, Congress spokesman Sandeep Dikshit too had opposed the ordinance.
Ahead of Wednesday’s cabinet meeting to withdraw the ordinance, union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said, “I agree 100% with Rahulji. There is a need for clean politics… Whatever Rahulji has felt on the issue, it is very encouraging.”
Video: Rahul meets PM, expresses regret about ordinance outburst