Indian politician Rahul Gandhi condemns 'nonsense' plan to protect convicted politicians

Gandhi - widely believed to be a future prime minister of India - says cabinet ordinance is 'complete nonsense and it should be torn up and thrown out'


Rahul Gandhi, the scion of India’s first political family and the man who will head the Congress party’s campaign at the next election, has stunned the government by denouncing as “nonsense” a plan to protect convicted politicians.

The Indian government had triggered widespread controversy by seeking to pass by a back-door method legislation that would have blocked convicted politicians from being disqualified from parliament. Such was the unease about the measure that the country’s president had indicated he was not keen to sign it into law.

But on Friday, with prime minister Manmohan Singh in the US where he is due to meet Barack Obama, Mr Gandhi slammed the government’s proposal, hijacking a press conference that had ostensibly been called to defend the measure.

“This is complete nonsense and it should be torn up and thrown out. It is my personal opinion,” Mr Gandhi said in Delhi, before repeating his point. “All parties do this because of political considerations and we must stop making compromises.”

He added: “It is time to stop this nonsense, political parties, mine and all others. If you want to fight corruption in the country whether it is Congress Party or BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party), we cannot continue making these small compromises. Because if we make these small compromises, then we compromise everywhere.”

The comments of Mr Gandhi, the great-grandson of India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, were leapt on by political commentators as well as the political opposition. Arun Jaitely, a senior leader of the main opposition BJP, said those behind the legislation, which was being passed by a cabinet “ordinance” rather than the parliament, should resign.

“All I can say is, this is a highly belated realisation of what constitutes nonsense,” he told the Press Trust of India.

While he has not been declared its prime ministerial candidate ahead of elections scheduled to take place before May, Mr Gandhi is widely expected to lead the Congress party’s election campaign. As such, his statement on Friday may have been designed to create some buzz for himself while seeking to suggest there is space between himself and the broader party establishment.

“It certainly reflects a desire to distance the Congress from Manmohan Singh,” said Ashok Mailk, a Delhi-based analyst and writer. “Nevertheless it is remarkably poor politics. Rahul has let down senior ministers who have defended the ordinance and, separately, tried to cover up for Rahul's shortcomings.”

Malvika Singh, editor of Seminar magazine and a celebrated observer of Delhi politics, said Mr Gandhi had been working for some time to counter the corrupt way that Indian politics had typically been done. “Everyone says you have to carry it with you but he is trying to change the narrative,” she said. “It is a complete commitment to what he said.”

The ordinance passed by India’s cabinet had been introduced earlier this week to overrule an order by India’s Supreme court that said politicians convicted of crimes should be removed from office.

The allegations of criminality facing India’s politicians are notorious. This week, an anti-corruption organisation, the Association for Democratic Reforms, estimated that of India’s 4,807 national and provincial politicians, around 30 per cent had criminal charges against them. At least 15 per cent faced “serious charges”, including rape and assault.

Whether the government will continue to support the measure is now unclear. It is unlikely Mr Singh will address the issue until he returns from the US.

Among those parties which had opposed the ordinance was the recently-formed Aam Aadmi, or Common Man, party. Its members had on Friday visited India’s president, Pranab Mukherjee, urging him not to sign the ordinance into law.

A party spokesman Manish Sisodia, said: “This is all merely a drama. Rahul Gandhi wants to show that he understands the country better than the parliament and the party. He is trying to position himself as a hero.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister
TVSPOILER ALERT: It's all coming together as series returns to form
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine