Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi's terse disapproval of the ordinance on convicted lawmakers Friday triggered demands from the BJP for resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as opposition parties said there was complete confusion in the UPA government.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Arun Jaitely said that those responsible for the ordinance should quit after Gandhi's describing it a "complete nonsense," while party spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi said the prime minister should resign if he has any self-respect.
Jaitley said Gandhi's remarks that the ordinance was "nonsense" were "grandstanding" and aimed at "damage control".
"This is a highly belated realisation of what constitutes nonsense. If heads don't roll, then this is only a grandstanding intended to show to the country that the government can make mistakes, only the first family of the Congress doesn't make mistakes," he told Times Now news channel.
"The whole country is waiting to see if the prime minister has any self-respect left ... Whether he accepts the decision of his cabinet being called nonsense," Jaitley said. The prime minister is in the US to attend the United Nations general assembly meeting.
BJP president Rajnath Singh told reporters in Chennai: "If the ordinance is nonsense, then what is his comments about the government."
Trinamool Congress termed Gandhi's remarks as "damage control" while Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) said it was for the Congress to speak on the ordinance confusion.
Trinamool MP Derek O'Brien said the Congress was attempting damage control.
"While PM is in Washington DC, the Congress party too are in DC: Damage Control," he said.
CPI-M MP Nilotpal Basu said Gandhi's remarks reflect utter confusion in the ruling dispensation. "It is for them (the Congress) to comment. This (Rahul Gandhi's) statement betrays complete confusion on what is going on," Basu told IANS.
Social activist Kiran Bedi tweeted: "Its embarrassing to see the considered bright/brilliant passionately defend decisions of their party until a 'yuvraj' comes and overturns them."
Lekhi said: "If Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has any self respect left then I think he should call it a day because the supercop who can correct the system has arrived on the scene."
"It is a sad day to treat the post of the PM in a shoddy manner just before he is to meet the US president," she added.
Making a dramatic appearance at the Press Club of India Friday, Gandhi said the government was "wrong" in preparing an ordinance that seeks to save convicted lawmakers from disqualification and that, in his opinion, "it is completely nonsense and should be torn up and thrown away".
The ordinance, approved by the union cabinet Tuesday, reverses the Supreme Court judgment mandating the immediate disqualification of lawmakers convicted for a criminal offence punishable with a jail term of more than two years.