New Delhi: Union Law
Minister Salman Khurshid's remarks Tuesday that a lack of
ideological direction plagued the Congress and that Rahul Gandhi
was performing only a cameo role triggered a sharp response from
the opposition BJP, which said this was proof that the country was
"in a state of drift".
Khurshid, a senior minister known to be close to the Gandhi
family, later clarified that his interview to the Indian Express
was "wrongly interpreted" but the remarks gave enough ammo to the
opposition to target the ruling Congress.
"I was asked some questions and whatever I said was wrongly
interpreted. If you (media) are unable to interpret statements
properly, then many other issues will be discussed only within the
party," Khurshid told reporters.
In an interview to the Indian Express, Khurshid said the Congress
was not getting any ideological direction from the Gandhi scion
who is the party general secretary and is widely tipped to take
the No.1 role.
"Until now we have only seen cameos of his thought and ideas like
democratising elections to the Youth Congress. But he has not
weaved all of this into a grand announcement. This is a period of
waiting," Khurshid was quoted as saying by the daily.
Clarifying his comment, Khurshid later denied he meant Gandhi was
not taking responsibility.
"We want him to take responsibility as he is our leader and we
want him to give power to the party. I have not said that he is
not doing it. I have said that our new generation leaders should
prepare themselves to face the new challenges."
He also denied having said the Congress was directionless.
But the published remarks, which came close on the heels of a Time
magazine report calling Prime Minister Manmohan Singh an
"underachiever", handed enough ammunition to the opposition to
target the government and the ruling Congress.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Ravi Shakar Prasad said that
Khurshid's comment on the Congress being directionless confirmed
the party's view.
"What is surprising is that it is coming from a senior minister of
the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, which is led by
the Congress from last nine years and if he says that the Congress
is directionless then country is in a state of drift," Prasad told
"Rahul, who is projected as the leader in the future, has no clear
convergent thinking and it is being confirmed by a senior
Though there was no official reaction from the Congress on
Khurshid's comments, party insiders said leadership was not
annoyed by the remarks from the articulate leader, who is known to
weigh his words before he speaks.
"He has only aired a general view in the party. He wants Gandhi to
lead from the front and that is what others feel also. Gandhi
should come to the center stage," a senior Congress leader told
IANS on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to
speak to the media.
The leader cited that External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna also
made similar suggestions about Gandhi, urging him to join the
"It seems his (Khurshid's) quotes may have been twisted. Otherwise
there is nothing wrong," the leader said.