Rahul finally finds his voice

Uses lung power to target Modi and Mahajan

New Delhi

Lok Sabha members seldom target the Speaker. But the Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi came up with an uncharacteristic bit of aggression and in one single shot targeted Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

He joined protesting Congress members in the well of the House to demand a discussion on incidents of communal violence in Uttar Pradesh after the advent of the Modi government, and then stepped out of the Lok Sabha to engage with the media.

Reflecting his new found aggression, he made several points against the Speaker and the government. He charged her with ‘one-sided partiality” and said — ‘‘We are not being allowed to speak in Parliament. We are asking for a discussion. There is a mentality in the government that discussion is not acceptable. Everybody feels it, their party feels it, we feel it, others feel it. There is a mood in Parliament that only one man’s voice counts for anything in this country.”

After these words, it was a no holds barred clash between the senior BJP and Congress leaders.

Senior ministers Arun Jaitley and Rajnath Singh also reacted to this criticism with sharp rebuttals. Describing Rahul’s outburst as contrived aggression, Jaitley saw it as a damage control exercise to ward off the impending palace coup in the party. The obvious reference was to the growing voices in the Congress for Priyanka to lead the party.

[alert type=”e.g. warning, danger, success, info” title=””]‘‘…There is a mood in Parliament that only one man’s voice counts for anything in this country” — Rahul Gandhi[/alert]

As other BJP leaders ascribed the aggression to frustration at losing the polls, Rajnath Singh rubbed in the point that the party would not have got such a massive mandate if Modi had been ‘dictatorial or communal.”

Mahajan too rebuffed the charge of bias, and observed that everybody gets a chance to speak.

Perhaps aware of these predictable reactions from senior leaders, Rahul moved a step higher in the BJP hierarchy and during a chance face to face encounter with the saffron patriarch L K Advani drew his attention to the ‘injustice to the opposition.’ The veteran parliamentarian did concede that the issue was serious, but also chided the young Congress leader.

The Congress frowned at Jaitley’s reference to ‘contrived aggression’ on Rahul’s part and reminded him that till a few months ago he had endorsed ‘obstructionism’ as legitimate parliamentary tactics.  “We tried to raise the issue through every available device. First, by seeking deferment of the Question Hour, then through a Zero Hour mention, and finally by seeking a debate/discussion, but the Speaker would not allow any of it,” said party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi.

Senior party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad also rejected Jaitley’s references to a palace coup. ‘‘The real coup took place in the BJP last year, when one man replaced the entire leadership,” he quipped.

However, the larger question that loomed in the minds of political observers was as to whether this was just a one-off incident or it marks the beginning of new approach on Rahul Gandhi’s part who has so far showed a laid back approach to Parliament, after refusing the responsibility of being the party’s leader in the Lok Sabha.

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