India’s Prime Minister and ‘Crown Prince’ Have an Awkward Spat

  • Share
  • Read Later
Saurabh Das / AP

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh offers prayers at a memorial to Mohandas Gandhi on his birth anniversary in New Delhi on Oct. 2, 2013

India’s ruling Congress Party was scrambling this week to smooth over an uncharacteristically public rift that erupted on Friday between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and party vice president Rahul Gandhi, scion to the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty that has dominated India’s politics since the country’s independence. On Wednesday morning, the birthday of Mohandas Gandhi and a public holiday in India, Rahul reportedly visited Singh’s residence in New Delhi to make amends for calling a controversial ordinance that the PM supports “nonsense.”

The law in question seeks to allow elected officials convicted of crimes to stay in office and stand for re-election during the appeals process. The Cabinet had presented the order for India’s President to sign into law last week after the Supreme Court struck it down, ruling that lawmakers would have to step down if convicted of a crime with a two-year jail sentence or more. Nearly a third of lawmakers in India’s lower house had criminal charges against them after the last general election. On Sept. 27, in a rare moment of candor before the New Delhi press, Gandhi said the order that the Cabinet passed to the President’s office was “complete nonsense” and “should be torn up and thrown away.” On Tuesday, after the Singh-Gandhi powwow, the Cabinet reportedly decided to withdraw the ordinance.

Politicians disagree over laws all the time, but the timing and fervor of Gandhi’s comments were widely interpreted as an open challenge to the country’s ministers, and to Singh in particular. Though Gandhi is known for making off-the-cuff comments once in a while, India relishes a good political intrigue, and speculation was rife about whether his remarks were orchestrated to undermine the PM, who was on an official visit to New York City at the time.

Planned or not, having the party’s vice president question Singh’s policy while representing India on the global stage sparked immediate suggestions that Singh should resign. Predictably, the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) re-upped its ongoing call for the PM to go, but even some longtime supporters like Sanjaya Baru, Singh’s former media adviser, said Gandhi’s defiance was more than Singh should be expected to bear. “It’s the height of insubordination,” Baru told CNN-IBN. “He has taken every knock on his chin … He should quit today.” Singh quickly sought to stamp out those suggestions, telling reporters on the plane back to India with his trademark composure that there was “no question” of him resigning, and that he and Gandhi would work it out.

They seem to have done that, but the fact that the government abandoned the bill after Gandhi’s comments translates into a big win for the dynast whose father, grandmother and great-grandfather were Prime Ministers of India. Where that leaves his party ahead of elections next year is unclear. Gandhi is seen by many in India to be the choice of Congress, led by his mother Sonia Gandhi, to replace Singh should the party prevail in national elections scheduled for next year. But Gandhi himself has yet to voice those ambitions, and has appeared to be reluctant to step into the role of party front man even after being recently appointed party veep. The heat is on for Congress to present a focused and unified front now that the BJP has put forward its own controversial prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. Whether Gandhi will take this fresh mandate and run with it remains to be seen.

8 comments
vaishnavjagdip
vaishnavjagdip

        INDIA ----- Wake up call --

           People of India wants back syphoned off money --            Not interested to know quantum of punishment --         ------------------------------------------------------------------ People of India are observing , Generally politicians instead serving the people, serves self interest, Judicial process takes undue long time to deliver verdict, .   Some Politician's  disproportionate asset cases were /are mishandled , when  Govt could not  remove poverty even after decades, how politicians became billionaire just within 5-8 years   period, It is unacceptable.  People are  exhausted, why permission is required to prosecute either elected politician or senior bureaucrat ? How important files which  are scam related gets misplaced that too from  govt  record /safe custody ? 
  Govt is too slow on bringing back ,black money lying in foreign Banks , It is matter of great concern that govt  as yet not recovered any amount from nabbed  persons on charges on big scams, These serious lapses  reveals how out investigating agencies are functioning./made to function   

RahulPappu
RahulPappu

They are highlighting and projecting Rahul Gandhi as the futur Prime Minister of India. Sonia gandhi cannot become the Prime Minister of India because, she is not a Indian Citizen and even today she carries a Italian Passport. 

Rahul Gandhi does not have good oratory skills or decent education. He Bought a degree from some unknown institution  in the US. But, his credibility was completely under scanner.

I want to see a day when there will be a debate among the Prime Minister aspiration Candidates, just like the way it happens in the USA. But Money, plays a vital role in the Indian Politics. Sad but true at the Grass root level. Its the  truth.


sridhar.sid
sridhar.sid

There is a larger strategic play which is being lost! The Gandhi family has always championed the cause of the poor and their leanings have been Socialist. Over the past two decades, when Dr. Singh was prime minister, the focus has shifted towards economic growth and the middle class voter.During this time, the legitimate Prime Minister elected by the People had to stand down because she was of Italian background. Now, Rahul Gandhi is moving back to centre stage and restoring his credentials as a champion of the ordinary Indian. This whole episode has been stage managed to jettison him into the role of the next leader of the Congress and may be of India

SubramanianVenkataraman
SubramanianVenkataraman

Reduce the age to hold elected posts, all these persons above 60 years of age, should be out.  The country would be free of persons who have to amass wealth for 4 or 5 generations.  It would be more honest and more sincere.  Persons should be made to pay in their own lifetime for the wrong and deliberate policy decisions.

rar113
rar113

"Nearly a third of lawmakers in India’s lower house had criminal charges against them after the last general election."

Should be the case here in the US, except more than a third.  Bunch of spoiled brats ruining the country.

suniltk.nanolab
suniltk.nanolab

What a fantastic democracy we have in India!!! The objective of this new ordinance was to provide blanket" immunity against arrest and jail to all elected leaders of Lok Sabha and nominated leaders of Rajya Sabha in India" EVEN AFTER CONVICTION FOR CRIMINAL CHARGES BY A COURT OF LAW IN INDIA. The entire opposition parties including BJP, Communists, Janata Dal, Samajwadi Party, BSP etc initially supported this Ordinance Bill. Thank God, we have one youth leader in Congress Party, who thought otherwise and publicly advised the Prime Minister's office to tear this BIll and throw it in the dustbin. Only time and destiny will decide whether Mr.Rahul Gandhi will become the Prime Minister of India. But this single outstanding act by him, will be remembered by all Indian citizens. This will definitely check and reduce corruption and political crime in our country.

MerrilySnider
MerrilySnider

I started reading the headline and thought it was the USA!

SanMann
SanMann

@sridhar.sid,

Your sycophancy for the Congress Party is ridiculous. Sonia Gandhi is a Dragon Lady who rules India from the shadows behind her Purdah. She never gave up any power - she simply appointed Manmohan Singh as her figurehead, being the sly and crafty person that she is. This is widely known, and was even commented upon by Standard & Poors in their assessment that India's ruling govt was not structured to deliver good governance.

The problem with the corrupt Congress party and its legions of paid sycophants, is that they want a One Party State. Having ruled India for 2/3 of a century,  they feel that their one party should rule India for perpetuity, and have turned the Nehru-Gandhi family into a Personality Cult whom they pretend have some divine mandate from heaven.

The people are fed up with decades of Congress Party corruption and misrule, and are strongly voicing their desire for change. That's why the frontrunner in the election campaigns is Narendra Modi, who has an excellent track record on development and good governance, something the people deeply hanker for. Look at the incredible growth and development that China and other Asian countries have achieved, while India has stagnated and fallen far behind under the Congress Party's kleptocracy.

Modi is the future, and Congress is the disappointing past.