The Congress isn't getting much time to lick the wound of the Time magazine cover story that declares the Prime Minister is an underachiever. Senior party leader and Law Minister Salman Khurshid has made remarks to a newspaper that appear to criticize Rahul Gandhi, who he describes as "the number two" in the Congress party. Mr Khurshid, however, said today that his remarks to the Indian Express have been misinterpreted and "my urging of young and new leadership of our party to prepare themselves to lead from the front, to prepare themselves to take on the challenge of our times is something you must see in the right context rather than in the negative context." (Read what Salman Khurshid said)
According to the Indian Express, Mr Khurshid said about Rahul Gandhi, "Until now, we have only seen cameos of his thoughts and ideas...but he has not weaved all of this into a grand announcement. This is a period of waiting."
Mr Khurshid, according to the paper, said "...he has not taken up the mantle or accepted a functional responsibility. He is so far not willing to accept the Number Two position."
At a time when the Congress is being unanimously attacked for its inability to introduce desperately-needed reforms, Mr Khurshid says, according to the paper, that it's not just economic reforms but administrative and political reforms that are getting delayed. Mr Khurshid held a press conference today, reportedly at his party's urging, to say that in future, conversations about the party's future would have to be held in private since the media was not able to report on them accurately. (Watch)
Of the Time magazine cover-story, he said, "We don't accept that assessment (of Time magazine) ...we are honoured that we are able to work with a PM...could not have had a better leader to help us during the global economic crisis."
Before his clarification, the BJP said, "It is not at all surprising that Congress leaders are echoing the same sentiment. As far as the Congress led government is concerned, it lacks policies, leadership and accountability. The prime minister started off as a reformist but he has turned out to be a non-performer," said the party's Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.
The Samajwadi Party, a close friend of the Congress, chipped in. Shahid Siddiqui said that Mr Khurshid has shared "a truth which Congressmen have been whispering to each other for quite some time...the government is directionless and the country, its economy is suffering, and somebody has to inform the bosses of the truth."