Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who rarely loses her temper with her partymen, allegedly blasted former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor at a meeting of lawmakers on Thursday after his views against stalling Parliament, a key Opposition strategy during the monsoon session, were leaked in the media.
"You always do this, it's become a habit with you," Gandhi is said to have told Tharoor, according to NDTV sources as stunned Congressmen looked on. Gandhi's son and Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi eased the situation by ushering out other Congress leaders to lighten the moment, the report said.
"Gandhi, who generally does not get angry, literally blasted Tharoor," an unnamed source told PTI, adding that the party chief was in no mood to listen to any explanation from Tharoor. Sonia was angry at Tharoor because his opposition to disruption tactics at a strategy meeting had made its way to the media.
NDTV reported that Sonia's outburst came after party members complained that Tharoor had "breached party discipline".
A report in the Indian Express indicated that not everyone in the Opposition was in favour of disruption of Parliament.
Congress MP in Rajya Sabha, M S Gill, told The Indian Express: "I would like to see Parliament work. The country has many serious problems. The 130 crore people of the country have many grave problems. So, we need to discuss and decide something for them and solve their problems."
A sizeable section in the Congress, especially young MPs, who want the party to make the most of the situation caused by the Lalit Modi controversy and the Vyapam scam to put the government in the dock. Reports said that at the strategy committee meeting, Tharoor had expressed himself against "stalling tactics".
Rahul was himself not against "disruption tactics" -- at least for the first week of the monsoon session -- till the Congress reviewed its strategy next week, the Express report said.
He had said the disruption tactics a repeat of what the BJP did when it was in the opposition may not be effective. He had given three reasons for this. First, the strength of the Congress is just 44, while the BJP had 110-plus members when it was in the opposition during the last Lok Sabha.
Second, it is not clear whether the rest of the opposition will join the Congress, and it remains to be seen if the government can get them on its side. Third, Tharoor is learnt to have argued that the government will, in all likelihood, brazen out the opposition attack.
Tharoor had argued that the Congress should instead engage in discussion on all issues -- be it Vyapam or the Lalit Modi episode -- and use facts and figures to drive home its point.
Sonia's reprimand of Tharoor came amid a belligerent Congress leaving no stone unturned to corner the Narendra Modi government over the various scams involving top BJP leaders. The Congress has been demanding the resignation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and the chief ministers of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh over Lalitgate and Vyapam.
This is not for the first time the Thiruvananthapuram MP has been caught on the wrong foot by the party. Some of his views including what was seen as being appreciative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi had caused a controversy.