Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday betrayed a sense of unease over the timing of Rahul Gandhis move to go public against the ordinance on convicted lawmakers and said he would go back and find out what provoked the Congress vice-president to speak when the PM was outside the country.
While he was emphatic that there was no question of him resigning,Singh said Rahul had sought a meeting with him on his return and all aspects of this issue would be covered in that conversation. The meeting is scheduled to take place Wednesday morning,sources said.
I have seen Mr Rahul Gandhis statement. He has written to me on the same subject also. Let me say that when issues are raised in a democracy,in a democratic polity,the right course is in trying to understand what is it agitating the mind of the concerned people, Singh said.
When I go back I will discuss these matters with Mr Rahul Gandhi. He has asked for a meeting with me. I will also take my cabinet colleagues into confidence. We will see which way the wind blows.
Singh,who was speaking to the media on his way back from the US,however,did concede that he does not have any control over what Rahul chooses to speak even though he is open to revisiting the ordinance which seeks to overturn the Supreme Court ruling which said convicted MPs and MLAs should be disqualified immediately.
I am not a master of what people say. It has happened and,as I said,when I go back,I will try to find out the reasons as to why it had to be done that way. And how do we handle it, Singh said in response to a question on whether he would have preferred that Rahul had spoken when he was in the country.
Asked if he was upset because this happened at a time when he was on an official foreign visit,Singh chose to be a tad philosophical: I think I have been used to ups and downs and dont get easily upset.
When reminded that such controversial remarks,be it from Rahul or his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif – who was reported as comparing Singh to a dehati aurat (village woman) during an off-the-record conversation – threatened to derail his visit at various points,Singh said: I have learnt to take all these things in my stride but Mr Nawaz Sharif has denied making any such remarks.
At no point was the Prime Minister defensive while fielding questions on the issue or warding off suggestions about resigning over this affront. In fact,he sought to set the record straight by asserting that the matter had been deliberated in detail within the party and the government.
There is no question of resigning. I will put all these issues before my cabinet colleagues. These are matters which were discussed before the highest body,the core group of the Congress party,the Cabinet. The Cabinet discussed these matters twice,not once. But its always possible to change ones mind and Ill consult my colleagues on all these issues.
Apart from the timing of the remarks,Singh did not appear to have any qualms about reversing a Cabinet decision. To that extent,he emphasised that he did not feel undermined because the intervention had come at such a late stage after all the necessary approvals had been secured.
I dont feel that way. I honestly feel if there is an important point of view,then any member of the Congress party,any member of the Cabinet,is free to raise issues and require reconsideration of issues. I think thats what democracies are all about. I dont think we are an authoritarian structure,where one person lays out all the line all the way. And therefore,my humble feeling is that when a point of view has been expressed,we must sit together,understand what is agitating the mind of the person who has raised these issues and thats what we will do, he said.
On the next course of action,the PM indicated that he had no particular preference on the matter and was willing to go with the consensus in the Cabinet.
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