The ordinance should be "torn up and thrown away," says Congress vice-president

It was a brief and surprise appearance by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi during the “Meet-the-Press” programme of his party’s communication department chief Ajay Maken at the Press Club of India here on Friday but he left after dropping a bombshell by denouncing as “complete nonsense” the ordinance to shield convicted lawmakers from disqualification.

The Gandhi scion’s shocker that has evoked criticism from various political quarters sent journalists and electronic channels scurrying to flash the “breaking news” for, they had neither anticipated the presence of Mr. Gandhi at the press meet nor did anyone, including Mr. Maken, had an inkling of Mr. Gandhi’s outburst against the UPA government, headed by his own party.

Barely 20 minutes into his statement and chat with journalists, Mr. Maken’s personal aide handed a folded note into the hands of Press Club general secretary Anil Anand. It read “URGENT R.G.,” a call on Mr. Maken’s mobile phone which he took by interrupting his session and going behind the stage. When he resumed his place, he announced the “good news” to mediapersons that soon Mr. Gandhi would be joining them at the Press Club of India.

The PCI general secretary received the Congress vice-president who was paying his maiden visit to the Club, which has been visited by Prime Ministers, Cabinet Ministers, Chief Ministers, Governors and other dignitaries in the past. Soon he was seated on the dais and seemed to show his restlessness by frequently rolling the sleeves of his kurta and indicating that he wanted to speak even as PCI president Anand Sahay was making an announcement about Mr. Gandhi’s unscheduled visit and told him: “Hang on” before offering the floor to him.

“It should be torn up and thrown away,” said Mr. Gandhi with a straight face and stern tone while condemning the controversial ordinance and stressing that it was his “personal opinion.” His statement came after reports started trickling in about unease in the Congress over the ordinance. Union Minister Milind Deora and Congress leader Anil Shastri have voiced their reservations on the ordinance.

Mr. Gandhi told journalists that he asked Mr. Maken what was happening and got to know about the “Meet the Press” at PCI, as well got from him a “political line” about the ordinance. “Now, I will tell you what is my opinion on the ordinance. It is complete nonsense,” he said.

At this point, Mr. Gandhi got up from his seat to leave but mediapersons persisted with their queries. He came back to his seat to repeat his impromptu statement. “I am interested in what the Congress party is doing and what our government is doing. That is why what our government has done as far as this ordinance is concerned is wrong,” he said and abruptly left the venue.

Soon after he left, Mr. Maken chose his words carefully to clarify: “What Rahul Gandhi has said is the view of the Congress party.” News channels lost no time in airing Mr. Maken’s defensive views on the ordinance before Mr. Gandhi’s denouncement and the “R.G.” storm had left it in tatters.

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