New Delhi: In what is being seen as a divide between the government and the ruling party, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi Friday said the Manmohan Singh government was "wrong" in clearing an ordinance that seeks to save convicted lawmakers from disqualification and, in his opinion, it should be "torn up and thrown away".
"What the government has done is wrong," Gandhi told journalists in a dramatic appearance at the Press Club of India this afternoon and a three-minute interaction with the media there.
Seeking to project the Congress party's line on the controversial ordinance - sent by the cabinet to the president - that has evoked sharp response from sections of the opposition and the public at large, Gandhi said: "It is time to stop this nonsense.
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"My opinion of the ordinance is that it is completely nonsense and should be torn up and thrown away."
He said the ordinance was born out of "political considerations" and it was time "political parties, including mine, should stop making these kind of compromises.
"The arguments that are being made and I have heard the arguments in my organisation, the arguments that are being made is that we need to do this because of political considerations. Everybody does this, the Congress party does this, the BJP does it, the Janata Dal does this,
Samajwadi Party does it," a bearded Gandhi, wearing his trademark kurta-pyjama, said.
"Whether it is the Congress or the BJP, we cannot continue make these small compromises. I am not interested in what any opposition leader says. I am not interested in what the Congress party is doing. I personally believe with what our government has done in this ordinance is wrong," he emphasised.
The de facto number two in the party refused to take any other question, indicating that he had just come to give his "personal opinion" on the ordinance that was passed by the cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Tuesday. The cabinet took the decision a day before prime minister left for a five-day visit to the US.
"I am not going to get into a long drawn press conference. I am here to meet the press ..and then I am going back to work," Gandhi said and left as quickly as he had come.
As most journalists were surprised to see Rahul Gandhi, who rarely interacts with the media, he explained he was talking to Ajay Maken, the person in charge of the party's media communication, who told him that he was going to speak on the ordinance to journalists.
"He gave me the line which every party would give you," he said amidst laughter, and then went on to drop the bombshell that he thought the ordinance was wrong.
The ordinance is with President Pranab Mukherjee, who has already sought clarifications from Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Law Minister Kapil Sibal. The Manmohan Singh government has been facing flak for the ordinance that overturns the Supreme Court ruling that barred convicted MPs and legislators from contesting elections.