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Rediff News  All News  » News » Sonia-Advani spat, not Assam, becomes Day 1 headline

Sonia-Advani spat, not Assam, becomes Day 1 headline

August 09, 2012 00:27 IST

Congress president Sonia Gandhi appeared in a new avatar when she shed her reticence and turned agitated on the opening day of the monsoon session of Parliament on Wednesday.

With the Bharatiya Janata Party moving an adjournment motion against the government over the ethnic clashes in Assam and the continued violence in the Congress-ruled state as the first item on the agenda, Sonia Gandhi lost her cool when during his speech senior BJP leader L K Advani called UPA II an "illegitimate government".

From Assam, he meandered onto the UPA and spoke about how crores of rupees were used to save the government, referring to the no confidence motion which happened in UPA I and not UPA II.

He called the UPA II 'illegitimate' at which Sonia Gandhi lost her cool and asked him to withdraw his words.

The House erupted in noise and chaos with Sonia Gandhi urging the Congress MPs to get up and protest; while she herself remained seated and continued to gesture and shout till Advani withdrew his words.

The newly appointed leader of the house, Sushil Kumar Shinde, also stood up and asked Advani to withdraw his words when Sonia gestured to him to take up the matter.

The newly appointed home minister and leader of the Lok Sabha was thrown in at the deep end when he had to reply to the debate in the adjournment motion.

He gave a technical written reply full of details of the incidents of violence in Assam and said that the army is on stand by and would be called only if absolutely required.

He also said that the Central Bureau of Investigation would be given some specific cases of violence to investigate the conspiracy angle and whether there were forces working behind the violence.

So far Pranab Mukherjee used to look after the nitty-gritty of operations in the Lok Sabha but now it looked as though Sonia Gandhi was the general leading her army on the opening day.

In the morning she arrived early and when she realised that the Congress MPs from Telangana were planning to storm into the Well of the House and disrupt the proceedings, as they had done earlier, she immediately put her foot down and told them she would not allow any more disturbances on the issue. They quietly retreated to their seats.

The entire House was taken by surprise when Sonia Gandhi lost her cool and looked visibly angry at her government being called 'illegitimate' when it had won a perfectly good election in 2009.

Even BJP MPs looked embarrassed since it was obvious that Advani had got his wires crossed and was confused between UPA I and UPA II.

Interestingly, senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi was later seen congratulating Sonia Gandhi for her performance.

Previously, Sonia Gandhi had lost her cool many years back when former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee had attacked Rajiv Gandhi over the Bofors issue. But she reacted only after the House had been adjourned when she walked upto Advani and gave him a piece of her mind and objected to what had been said about her late husband.

While Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did not react to what Advani said, later while speaking to reporters he called his words "disgraceful".

Instead of Assam being in the spot light, the Sonia-Advani spat became the headline which opened the monsoon session of Parliament with Congress MPs delighted that by her actions, the Congress president had energised the party.

Rahul Gandhi also did not react, and when later he was asked, he merely said that Advani was too senior for him to react to what he said.

Gandhi junior obviously did not want to take away from his mother's limelight and decided to remain out of the frame on this occasion.


Renu Mittal in New Delhi