In a rare instance since becoming a Lok Sabha member in 1999, Congress President Sonia Gandhi today lost her cool after veteran Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, LK Advani, called the current incarnation of the coalition government, the United Progressive Alliance II, “illegitmate.” Visibly agitated by the remark, Gandhi signaled to her colleagues to respond harshly to this characterization.
"Never in the Indian history crores of rupees were spent to win votes in the House,” Advani had said in the run-up to the illegitimate statement.
Sonia’s unprecedented display of anger in the lower house of parliament galvanized the Congress members who were up on their feet immediately and shouting at the 84-year-old Advani. This led Advani to clarify that he was referring to the first UPA’s coalition surviving a vote of no-confidence in 2008, not the 2009 election that brought UPA II to power.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a long-time critic of Advani, also slammed the remark, characterizing it as both “disgraceful and unfortunate.”
Interestingly, Rahul Gandhi dealt with the issue in a starkly different manner, indicating that he does not intend to follow the Congress Party’s leadership blindly. When asked by reporters about Advani’s comment Rahul simply responded calmly, "He is a senior person. He knows what he is saying. I don’t want to comment"
Sonia’s aggression in the House has galvanized the Congress Party. As for the BJP camp, several BJP MPs were quite pleased with Advani’s statement, and a spokesperson asked PM Singh to clarify his position on the scandal surrounding the 2008 no-confidence vote. Turning his sights on Sonia Gandhi, the spokesperson next asked rhetorically, "When Sonia Gandhi herself [has] lost control how could she control others.”