Congress vice president
Rahul Gandhi on Thursday conceded the words he had chosen to trash the ordinance on convicted lawmakers might have been wrong but not his sentiment.
"My mother (Congress President Sonia Gandhi) told me the words I used were wrong. In hindsight, may be the words I used were strong but the sentiment was not wrong. I am young....," the Congress vice president told mediapersons.
Rahul, whose open denunciation and mounting public opinion against the ordinance and the related bill, forced the government to repeal the ordinance, also said he had the right to voice his opinion and claimed a "large part" of the Congress wanted the ordinance withdrawn.
"I have the right to voice my opinion. A large part of the Congress wanted it," he said defending his action.
“Why am I being penalised for raising my voice on something that was wrong? Was I wrong?", Rahul said, apparently hinting at the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, besides some United Progressive Alliance allies, including Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party and Farooq Abdullah's National Conference which had reportedly criticised the events that led to the reversal of the Cabinet's decision.
"My point is detrimental to our allies," Rahul said when suggested Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad, jailed in a fodder scam case, would be the most unhappy person after what the Congress vice-president did to thwart the ordinance.
Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party, which is supporting the UPA government from outside, had openly criticised rescinding of the ordinace.
The BJP has been most vocal and even demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, saying Rahul's outburst against the ordinance, which he had called "nonsense" and should be "torn up and thrown away", had undermined his authority.
"I spoke my mind on the issue, it is amazing to see reactions to it. I am flabbergasted," he said.
Rahul, who is on a two-day tour of Gujarat as part of preparations for next year's general elections, admitted factionalism in Congress was responsible for repeated defeats of the party in Gujarat.
“The problem is not external, it is internal. Certainly there is factionalism in Congress party," Rahul said to a question why his party was repeatedly losing to the BJP in the state.
Maintaining that "most democratic institutions of the country are not democratic in nature," he said adding the future of the nation was being decided by a handful of people.
"The population of India is 1.2 billion. However, there is centralisation of power here. Only about 1,000 people decide who will go to the Vidhan Sabhas and the Lok Sabha who in turn decide the future of this country," Rahul said.
"What we are doing in the party is decentralisation of power. Every bill that we have brought is about decentralisation of power from Panchayati Raj to Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gurantee Act," he said.
"When I was the general secretary of youth Congress, we brought reforms. No post of YC or the National Students Union of India comes from top to bottom now. But you cannot apply what we did in the YC and the NSUI to the main Congress party. It is more complex here. But our direction is right. Our direction is of empowering more people," he said.
During the day, he interacted with office-bearers of the state Congress, Youth Congress and the NSUI, the party's students wing. He is scheduled to meet party leaders and office-bearers at Rajkot on Friday.