Ahmedabad: Rahul Gandhi on Thursday spoke for the first time about his scathing public review of the ordinance that was introduced to protect convicted MPs.
"My mother told me that the words that I used were strong. In hindsight, I feel maybe my words were wrong... but the sentiment I felt was not wrong," the young vice-president of the Congress told reporters in Gujarat. His mother, Sonia Gandhi, is president of the Congress party. "I am entitled to voice my opinion," he said, stressing that a large section of his party supported his stand.
The government withdrew the ordinance last evening, which Mr Gandhi derided as "nonsense" that should be "torn up and thrown away" at a press conference last week that was being addressed by senior Congress leader Ajay Maken. "I told him you can't defend the indefensible," Mr Gandhi said.
Apparently referring to the criticism by the opposition and some allies that he had insulted and undermined the authority of the Prime Minister and the cabinet, Mr Gandhi asked, "Why am I being penalised for raising my voice on something that was wrong?"
"I spoke my mind on the issue, it is amazing to see reactions to it. I am flabbergasted," he said.
On Wednesday, Mr Gandhi met Dr Manmohan Singh and reportedly expressed regret for the timing and language of his critique. However, he reiterated his opposition to the controversial executive order that was seen as a naked attempt to circumvent the Supreme Court.
In July, the court barred law-makers from holding office if they are convicted in cases carrying sentences of more than two years.
Two days after her son's blunt remarks, Mrs Gandhi defended the Prime Minister at a rally in Karnataka and attacked the main opposition party, the BJP, for "making fun" of him.
"They make fun of our party, our prime minister. I want to tell them that our whole party stands behind the prime minister," she said.