“My mother told me the words I used were wrong. In hindsight, may be the words I used were strong but the sentiment was not wrong. I am young...”
Days after his public opposition to the ordinance protecting convicted MPs and MLAs from disqualification, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has conceded that he used strong words while objecting to the move but asserted that most leaders in his party were against it.
“When I voiced my opinion against it, my mother [Sonia Gandhi] told me that I used strong words. But I had every right to express my opinion. I am young. Maybe, my words were strong but my sentiments were right,” he told reporters in an interaction under the aegis of the Gujarat Media Club here on Thursday.
Replying to questions about his going public with his views against the ordinance, he said, “Why am I being penalised for expressing my opinion? It is very difficult for me to go along with this [ordinance]. As far as I am concerned, I have the right as a member of the Congress to give my opinion.”
When asked if he had the coming elections in mind when he opposed the ordinance, Mr. Gandhi said, “In fact, my viewpoint was detrimental to our alliance [UPA]. It is costly for us [Congress].”
In a lighter vein, he said that when he decided to oppose the ordinance, he told party spokesman Ajay Maken not to defend it. “I told him you don’t need to defend it. I will come to defend you.”
Asked why was the Congress losing elections to the Bharatiya Janata Party in Gujarat for the last two decades, Mr. Gandhi said the party was not losing to the BJP but was suffering because of “intense factionalism within.” He said, “The reasons are internal and not the BJP.”
Decentralisation of power
He said his emphasis was on decentralisation of power at all levels in the political parties, including his own party, and the governments. He lamented that “too few people” across the political spectrum took all decisions.
“Most of our institutions and political parties are undemocratic. Only about 1,000 people across all parties and governments, out of a 120 crore population, now take all decisions. In the Congress also, 500 people do so. A lot of problems arise due to this centralisation.”
Mr. Gandhi said he had changed this trend in the Youth Congress when he was in charge of it. “I fundamentally changed the way the Youth Congress worked. The Congress should also directionally go this way but the party has a more complex structure.”
The UPA government tried to introduce decentralisation of power at all levels and that a completely “new generation of members elected from the panchayats is coming up and they will be tomorrow’s leaders.”