x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

PM will not quit after clash with Gandhi family

Manmohan Singh rules out resigning ahead of a meeting with ruling party leader Rahul Gandhi after a public clash on policy.

NEW DELHI // The prime minister, Manmohan Singh, yesterday, ruled out resigning ahead of a meeting with ruling party leader Rahul Gandhi after a public clash on policy.

Mr Gandhi, No 2 in the Congress party, described a recent executive order passed by Mr Singh’s cabinet to shield convicted politicians as “nonsense”.

The blunt comments last Friday had sparked speculation about Mr Singh’s future.

The order was approved by the government in September to prevent MPs being ejected from parliament if convicted of serious crimes. But the order was withdrawn by cabinet yesterday.

“I honestly feel that if there is an important point of view, any member of the Congress party, any member of my cabinet is free to raise issues that require reconsideration,” Mr Singh said as he returned to India from the United States on Tuesday.

He stated clearly that “there is no question of resigning” as he brushed off suggestions he had been undermined ahead of meetings with the US president, Barack Obama, and his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif.

Mr Singh met Mr Gandhi at his home yesterday morning ­for about 30 minutes.

The executive order, which must be signed by the president to become law, was an attempt to override a supreme court ruling that MPs and state legislators should be disqualified from public life if convicted of crimes carrying a sentence of more than three years.

The cabinet’s ordinance would have shielded the government ally, Lalu Prasad Yadav, who was convicted this week of corruption. But some observers said it sent the wrong message before elections next year, when graft is set to be a key issue.

* Agence France-Presse