Rahul Gandhi trying to prove his existence: BJP
NEW DELHI: The Lok Sabha on Wednesday witnessed the unfamiliar sight of Rahul Gandhi leaving his backrow seat and storming the Well of the House, an act that Bharatiya Janata Party instantly dubbed as “contrived aggression” forced by the possibility of a “palace coup” within Congress.
The Congress vice-president’s dramatic intervention, which came after the Speaker rejected his party’s demand for suspending Question Hour to discuss rising incidents of communal violence, sparked off a war of words between the government and the principal Opposition party.
Outside Parliament, a belligerent Gandhi — who has been under fire from his own partymen after Congress’ disastrous performance in Polls 2014 — took a direct potshot at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and declared that “only one man’s voice is allowed to be heard”.
Rahul Gandhi also accused Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan of conducting business in a biased manner. Finance minister Arun Jaitley hit back by saying a section of Congress (read Rahul) was feeling edgy because of a “a palace coup” (a reference to the increasing chorus from within Congress for a larger role for Priyanka Gandhi). “The reason is very clear.
Today a section of the leadership of the Congress party, because of its inability to lead, has been under pressure. They have been facing a palace coup. It’s a coup within their own party,” he said. Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad retaliated by saying those who lead the NDA government had already staged a coup within BJP against other prime ministerial aspirants. As the issue played out, Rahul was seen having a word with veteran BJP leader LK Advani in Parliament. Party president Sonia Gandhi chose to ignore the BJP attack saying, “Let them say whatever they want”.
ET on Monday had reported that Priyanka Gandhi could soon take the plunge into politics as the party went through one of its biggest crises after its drubbing in the recent Lok Sabha polls. A range of party leaders, from NSUI to AICC, has of late come down on Rahul Gandhi’s style of functioning which they see as “passive and half-hearted” in the face of an aggressive BJP led from the front by the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah duo.
While Congress leaders from Kerala to Punjab have expressed dismay at the party leadership’s failure to come up with any plan of revival, the “Bring Priyanka” clamour received a fresh impetus this week when two leaders considered close to the Gandhi family — Janardan Dwivedi and Oscar Fernandes — issued thinly veiled criticism of the state of affairs.
Observers say Wednesday’s uncharacteristic show by Rahul Gandhi is also indicative of the simmering tension between the government and Congress over the issue of barricading the Insurance Bill and the denial of LoP’s post to the main Opposition party added to the bitter background.
Later, when the House re-assembled after the lunch break, the government and Congress had another round of argument before they agreed to the Speaker’s suggestion that the Opposition demand for a discussion can be taken up on Thursday or Friday after the listed business is completed.