Hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised his predecessor Manmohan Singh in Parliament, his government mounted an all-out attack on the Congress and its leader Rahul Gandhi, claiming in a comparative White Paper that the economy had lost its way under the UPA and that there was a crisis of leadership in the coalition government.
Launching a volley against Rahul Gandhi, the government’s White Paper pointed to 2013, when the Congress leader had “torn up” his own government’s proposed ordinance overturning a Supreme Court judgment. The court had ruled that MPs and MLAs convicted with a minimum two-year sentence would be immediately disqualified and would not get three months to appeal, like they did until then.
Mr Gandhi had termed the ordinance “complete nonsense” and his act was seen as a major embarrassment for then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, whom the BJP had attacked as a “puppet” of the Gandhi family ever since he assumed office in 2004.
Point 41 of the White Paper, which was tabled by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Parliament on Thursday, states, “Time and again, there was a crisis of leadership in the UPA government. It came out in full public glare in the shameful public tearing up of an ordinance issued by the government.”
In the 10 years that the UPA was in power, the BJP had repeatedly alleged that the leadership structure in the government was not clear and that then Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son, Rahul Gandhi, were calling the shots even though Manmohan Singh was the Prime Minister.
Addressing a press conference in 2013, Mr Gandhi had said, “I personally think what the government is doing on the ordinance is wrong. It was a political decision, every party does it, and there is a time to stop this nonsense… If we actually want to stop corruption then we cannot make these compromises.”
He had said the ordinance should be “torn and thrown out” and then proceeded to tear a piece of paper.
Speaking in Parliament earlier on Friday, PM Modi had called Manmohan Singh an “inspiration” for lawmakers.
“I remember during the voting in the House, it was known that the treasury bench would win but Dr Manmohan Singh came on a wheelchair and cast his vote. This is an example of a member being alert to his duties. He was an inspirational example,” PM Modi said.