NEW DELHI, Oct 2 – India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh ruled out resigning ahead of a meeting with a ruling party leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday, following their public clash over policy.
Gandhi, number two in the Congress party, described a recent executive order passed by Singh’s cabinet to shield convicted politicians as “nonsense”.
The blunt comments last Friday had sparked speculation about 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 But it was expected to be withdrawn by the cabinet later on Wednesday at a meeting.
“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,” Singh told reporters travelling with him 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 US President Barack Obama and Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif, The Times of India reported.
Singh met Gandhi, the new generation of the Gandhi-Nehru dynasty that has ruled India for most of its post-independence history, at his home on Wednesday 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 lawmakers should be disqualified from public life if convicted of crimes.
The cabinet’s ordinance would have shielded 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.