Saturday, 27 August 2011

Rahul's remark pours cold water on PM's statesmanship: Sushma

The Opposition on Saturday sought to drive a wedge between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi saying the young leader's remarks on Anna Hazare's fast has "poured cold water" on the statesmanship of the leader of the country.

"Was Rahul Gandhi's speech a Zero Hour intervention or an address to the nation," asked Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj while initiating a day-long debate in the Lok Sabha on the issues relating to the setting up of a Lokpal.

The debate was held on a day when Hazare's fast entered the twelfth day and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, whose statement formed the basis of the discussion, made a renewed appeal to the Gandhian to end the hunger strike.

Swaraj insisted that Rahul's remarks were the line of the Congress party which "poured cold water on the statesmanship displayed by the prime minister on the floor of the House" a couple of days back in a bid to end the impasse.

Amid objections and protests from Congress members, Swaraj also took a dig at Speaker Meira Kumar who was in the chair, for allowing Gandhi to speak for so long while other members were restricted to just three to five minutes during the Zero Hour.

Unruffled by the protests including an objection by Minister Srikant Jena, Swaraj accused the government of failing to come up with a resolution or a statement by a senior minister yesterday which could have facilitated a debate straight away.

This, she said, was because the government was not ready to make a commitment on the Lokpal issue.

Noting the absence of Gandhi in the House, Swaraj said the young leader comes rarely to Parliament. He may be general secretary of the Congress, but in the House he is just a second term member, she remarked.

"Yesterday when he (Gandhi) came and started speaking in the Zero Hour, even the Prime Minister came rushing," she said adding that the young leader had come to give his party's line on the controversial issue.

Swaraj suggested that Rahul gave a different line by telling the House that "it is not a matter of how the present impasse will resolve, it is a much greater battle. There are no simple solutions..."

She also said it was amusing that the Congress General Secretary spoke of greater democracy within political parties.

When Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal reminded Swaraj that she was diverting from the issue, she said she was happy that the prime minister has taken the "reins in his hands once again" for resolving the issue.

The senior BJP leader admitted even her party's failure in enacting a Lokpal when it got opportunity twice during the NDA rule.


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