New Delhi: Days after Union Ministers Pawan Kumar Bansal and Ashwani Kumar were sacked, there seems to be an apparent divide between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Congress party. The Congress has given full credit to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi for the resignation of the Bansal and Ashwani.
Sources say the party is upset with the Prime Minister's strong defence of Ashwani. Meanwhile, the BJP has upped the ante demanding Manmohan's resignation.
New Law Minister Kapil Sibal will now have to shield the Prime Minister with all eyes now set on the Supreme Court's ruling on CBI's coal scam report in July.
The Congress, meanwhile, is mulling a complete facelift by way of a reshuffle even as Manmohan is left in a vulnerable spot. The Congress core group is meeting on Sunday evening ahead of the reshuffle.
Within hours of the former law minister's resignation, BJP targeted the PM, raising the worry that if the SC gives adverse comments in July, it's the PM who stands directly in the line of fire. BJP President Rajnath Singh pressed for the PM's resignation, asking, "Who gave the orders (to Ashwani Kumar) for meeting the CBI director?"
The Prime Minister has chosen Kapil Sibal as the new Law Minister, whose biggest challenge would be to provide a shield to him, similar to what he did as Telecom Minister during the 2G case.
The Prime Minister insisted that no rule was broken and that the court had said nothing against the government. In fact, a statement prepared by the PM after the resignation of Ashwani defended him, differentiating his case from Bansal's. This statement, however, was not released, raising further doubts that all is not well.
And even as the PM appears increasingly isolated, the Congress is mulling a complete facelift by way of a reshuffle. Stress will again be on new faces with little baggage, but options for the Congress are few and time is running out.