Khurshid had told The Indian Express yesterday that the root of the problems plaguing the Congress was lack of an “ideological direction”.
“Until now, we have only seen cameos of his (Rahul’s) thought and ideas like democratising elections to the Youth Congress,” he said.
His comments exhorting the next generation leadership to prepare for the future, Khurshid said today, were being “misinterpreted”.
The BJP seized on the remarks, pointing out that it has always blamed the stagnation the country finds itself in on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi.
In Mumbai, the Opposition’s presidential candidate P A Sangma said Khurshid’s comments indicated the “beginning of a political churning”. “Despite making these remarks, how is Khurshid continuing in the Union Cabinet? This means that it is not he but 10 Janpath which is saying these things,” he said. “I have been saying that this poll is going to be a political churner. The churning has started with Khurshid’s statement.”
Amid indications that he was pulled up by the party brass, Khurshid contended that there was no scope for any objection or controversy on what he had stated. “If the media is not understanding or willing to understand the import of what I said, then it is better that these things are discussed within the party forum. I never said that the party is directionless and if I am saying this, then I am blaming myself,” he said.
The Law Minister, who had earlier offered to quit the government and work for the party after the drubbing in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, added: “My party has to give strength to the government. The party is the base of the government and the party, despite the disappointments that it has faced in a few places, is absolutely determined to ensure that we put the best possible step forward... In that context, my urging 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.”
Refusing to elaborate further, he said: “I will not explain anything...If I start explaining myself, I have to end up telling you, ‘Please try to work towards the creative understanding of good language’... Because you are unable and unwilling to do that, therefore I don’t think we should have any further discussions on this matter....”
While Congress leaders refused to come on record, there were sharp reactions to his comments. A senior Cabinet colleague conceded that the controversy could have been avoided given the “negative perception” plaguing the government.
Another leader noted that the Gandhis were a touchy subject: “The reaction may not be immediate, but it will certainly come later.”
The official refrain from the party was that Khurshid had already given a clarification on the matter.