Rahul Gandhi or the Congress can never think of disrespecting former prime minister Manmohan Singh, the party said on Monday defending Mr Gandhi’s act of tearing a copy of an ordinance in 2013.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said Mr Gandhi’s move of tearing the ordinance brought by the UPA government to allow those convicted in criminal cases to contest elections was a courageous step.
His reaction came after former Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said after the Rahul Gandhi ordinance-trashing episode of 2013, Mr Singh had asked him whether he thought he should resign as prime minister.
“I do not know what was discussed between the two people. But, Rahul Gandhi has considered Dr Manmohan Singh as his guru and guide, neither Rahul Gandhi nor the Congress party can even think of disrespecting him,” Mr Surjewala told reporters.
He said when all parties in parliament were with a majority trying to pass a legislation to grant pardon to all those who had cases against them, at that time one political leader displayed the strength to rise above party level in a bid to clean politics.
“The issue is not tearing the paper but the issue is of clean politics and whether criminals should remain in politics,” he said.
The Supreme Court had a day before the ordinance-trashing episode had issued directions to all parties to make public the cases against a candidate, Mr Surjewala said.
The former deputy chairman of the now-defunct Planning Commission, Mr Ahluwalia had said he told Dr Singh, who was then on a visit to the US, that he did not think a resignation on this issue was appropriate.
In a major embarrassment to his own government, Mr Gandhi had denounced the controversial ordinance brought by the UPA dispensation to negate a Supreme Court verdict on convicted lawmakers. He had termed it as “complete nonsense” that should be “torn up and thrown away”.
Mr Singh, while returning home from the US, had ruled out his resignation though he appeared piqued over the entire episode.
“I was part of the PM’s delegation in New York and my brother Sanjeev, who had retired from the IAS, telephoned to say he had written a piece that was very critical of the PM. He had emailed it to me and said he hoped I didn’t find it embarrassing,” recalled Mr Ahluwalia.