NEW DELHI — Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India withdrew an order that allowed convicted lawmakers to retain office after a public rebuke from the Gandhi family, which leads his party, caused embarrassment before the election.
Singh’s cabinet, in a meeting Wednesday, decided to rescind the ordinance, which had overturned a July Supreme Court ruling that barred legislators convicted of crimes from holding public positions, Oil Minister Veerappa Moily said. Rahul Gandhi, vice president of the Congress party that heads Singh’s coalition government, slammed the executive order last week, saying it should be torn up and thrown away.
Gandhi’s criticism exposed the chasm between older leaders of Congress and the 43-year-old scion of India’s foremost political dynasty. His disapproval also undermined Singh amid attacks by Narendra Modi, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party’s pick for prime minister and the main challenger to Congress, before national elections.
‘‘Gandhi tried to give an impression that he represents a different political class who can feel the pulse of the people,’’ said Satish Misra, an analyst at New Delhi’s Observer Research Foundation. “He’s asserting his leadership to contain further damage to his party’s image.’’
India’s Supreme Court, in a bid to curb the growing criminality in the world’s largest democracy, issued the ruling on July 10 to help close a loophole that allowed repeated appeals against convictions. The ordinance was designed to overturn that ruling and allow convicted lawmakers to continue in legislative bodies.