Hours after President Pranab Mukherjee summoned some union ministers and expressed his reservations on the controversial ordinance concerning convicted MPs and MLAs on Thursday evening,Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi sent a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Washington. But,without waiting for a reply,he chose to attack the government publicly on Friday.
Congress sources said that in his first letter to the Prime Minister,Rahul expressed his strong views against criminalisation of politics and requested him to reconsider the cabinets decision to clear the ordinance to negate the Supreme Courts ruling on immediate disqualification of convicted MPs and MLAs.
Rahul sent the letter hours after the President summoned union ministers Sushil Kumar Shinde,Kamal Nath and Kapil Sibal and asked them what the government would do if the Supreme Court struck down the ordinance. The ministers returned to confabulate with Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
Although Rahul was not a part of these deliberations,he chose to write to Singh to apprise him of his views. As the Prime Minister indicated in his statement after Rahuls public outburst against the ordinance,he (PM) was planning to discuss the issues raised by Rahul after his return to India after due cabinet deliberations.
But,the Congress vice-president was not prepared to wait for the PMs reply,as he pre-empted it by barging into Ajay Makens press conference and declaring the ordinance as complete nonsense,saying it should be torn and thrown out.
Congress sources said party president Sonia Gandhi was not kept in the loop about Rahuls plans. Shortly after he attacked the government,she called up the Prime Minister and sought to explain to him that Rahuls statement was not meant to undermine him. Sources said it was at her behest that Rahul sent another letter to Singh,in which he stated that he has the highest respect for him (PM) and he should understand the strength of my own conviction on the issue.
Rahuls reaction,said sources,underlines the different world views of the young leader and party veterans. The governments haste to bring the ordinance was purportedly guided by the party veterans concern for prospective ally Lalu Prasad Yadav,who is awaiting a verdict in the fodder scam case.
When Sonia was under attack for her foreign origin in the late 1990s,it was Lalu who first came out strongly in her defence. He has never made any personal attack against the (Nehru-Gandhi) family even though the Congress has continuously spurned his overtures for rapprochment. Rahul has a different view about Lalu and his politics,and he is more keen to go along with Nitish Kumar, said a senior Congress functionary.
Similarly,Sonia was said to be upset with Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee for the manner in which she dealt with the Congress before severing ties. When Mamata subverted the Congresss plan to nominate Vice-President Hamid Ansari as the partys candidate in the presidential election,Sonia was said to have called up Ansari to apprise him of the development and express her anguish about Mamatas behaviour. Given a choice,we would prefer to go with the Left in any post-poll scenario,but Rahul has different views, said a party office-bearer.