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Congress party leader Digvijay Singh. Photo: HT
Congress party leader Digvijay Singh. Photo: HT

Digvijay Singh remark on Rahul Gandhi stirs row

Digvijay Singh had said that Rahul Gandhi does not have the temperament of a ruler

New Delhi: Congress party leader Digvijay Singh’s comment about party vice-president Rahul Gandhi has stirred a controversy on the eve of the Parliament’s budget session, and suggests the party needs to clean up its communication channels, analysts said.

Singh said Gandhi does not have the “temperament of a ruler", but he used a Hindi word that could be interpreted to mean Gandhi was not “power hungry."

The Congress, after a decade in power, was decimated in the general election, with its tally in Lok Sabha falling to 44 from 206 seats in the 2009 elections. Gandhi, who led the party’s campaign, owned responsibility for the poor performance.

“By temperament, woh sattadhaari vyakti nahin hain. By temperament, woh aisa vyakti hai jo anyaay ke khilaph ladna chaahta hai (by temperament, he is not a ruler. By temperament, he is a person who wants to fight injustice)," said Singh, a party general secretary, Press Trust of India reported. He made the remarks in an interview to a Goa news channel.

Singh later clarified in Bangalore: “I said he is always fighting against injustice and, therefore, he is not for power. He fights injustice. That is the difference between us and him."

The Congress played down the issue and said Singh’s comment has been misinterpreted. “All he said was that Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi are not crazy for power. It is, in fact, a compliment and he has said nothing on the lines that he (Rahul Gandhi) is not good for governance or leadership," said P.C. Chacko, a Congress spokesman.

Earlier, former defence minister and senior Congress leader A.K. Antony had said people had “lost faith in the secular credentials of the party" because they felt it “bats for a few communities, especially minorities".

Experts feel these statements by senior leaders should be taken as an indicator that the party needs to shake up its organization and bring in transparency. “The Congress party is in a unique situation right now. Irrespective of what Singh or Antony have said, the party needs a massive shake up right now," N. Bhaskara Rao, a New Delhi-based political analyst who has observed the party over two decades, said.

“Singh’s comments are merely a different point of view. Party leaders were not saying this earlier and now they are. Right now the image of the party is not important. Cleaning up the rusted communication channels should be the priority," he said.

Singh could not be reached for a comment. His office informed that he was in Bangalore for an event.

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