NEW DELHI, June 19: A day after he was snubbed by the party high command for criticising TMC leader Mamata Banerjee, veteran Congress leader Digvijay Singh maintained that he had not “crossed any boundaries” of party line.
The Congress, which is still trying to woo Mamata’s TMC despite recent bickerings, had issued a statement on Monday distancing itself from Singh’s comments that the West Bengal Chief Minister was “immature” and “erratic”.
Singh said that he was in agreement with the party’s message that he was not its spokesperson. “So, I have no question on that. Whatever I have said, I have said in my personal capacity,” he said.
Asked to rate TMC as an ally, Singh merely said, “Every political party acts according to its own roadmap.”
To a question on whether he sees any larger design in Trinamool’s opposition to the UPA’s Presidential nominees, he said, “Each individual party moves along according to that party’s core vote.”
When asked about TMC’s conduct on the issue of Presidential poll, the AICC leader said, “That is for everyone to see but the fact remains that TMC is still a part of UPA.”
Expressing confidence that UPA will be winning the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Singh pointed out that the ruling alliance has not lost any ally so far. Asked whether there is a fear in Congress that NDA was trying to poach upon its allies, Singh said that every political party has a reason to extend its support base but Congress is confident of forming a government in 2014. “Why not” was his short response when asked whether UPA-II will remain intact till the next Lok Sabha elections.
Singh said the next general elections will be a contest between national parties—Congress and BJP, though regional parties will also have a role to play. Asked about factionalizm in Congress, Singh said this has to be addressed by the party at its own level.
Singh parried questions on whether Samajwadi Party could join the UPA and whether the ruling alliance would be including more parties by 2014. “Can’t say just now. At the moment, everyone’s concern is to see that the President and the Vice President’s elections are completed without much difficulty,” he said.
On whether he foresees SP and Congress coming closer, Singh merely said that Samajwadi Party has been supporting UPA I and UPA II consistently since 2004.
Singh suggested that the blame lay with coalition compulsions when pointed out that there was an impression of a policy paralysis in the government and that it was not moving forward with the required urgency towards economic reforms. Singh said the UPA government shall decide the pace at which the reforma have to come and the issues that have to be brought on priority.
The AICC general secretary also steered clear of questions on whether there is a need to replace “obstructing” allies as demanded by some in the recent CWC meeting. “This is something, which I can’t say on my own. It will be the decision of the party,” he said.
Regarding a second term to Vice President Hamid Ansari, Singh said that he has the “greatest regard” for Ansari but had “no role” in such a decision, which has to be taken by the party high command.
Asked whether Congress would prefer a conensus on Mukherjee’s name for President or would it like to go with a contest to prove that it has the numbers, Singh said that everyone should try for consensus and unanimity for the post of President. He, at the same time, said that “Congress party has never been scared of a contest”.
The AICC general secretary also took Ramdev, saying he would not like to meet the yoga guru, who is meeting political leaders to garner support for his campaign against black money.
Asked whether Congress President Sonia Gandhi should meet Ramdev and whether he would you like to meet him, he said, “It is for the Congress President to decide. As far as I am concerned, I would not like to meet him. “First of all, if Ramdev wants to meet me, he should seek an appointment from my office but, on my own, I am not keen to meet him,” he said.
Claiming that Congress party has always been fighting against black money, Singh said, “We have been doing our best after 2004 to unearth black money and also to bring back money stashed outside. “Efforts that have been made by the Finance Minister during UPA I and UPA II are much more than whatever NDA did. So our fight against black money cannot be questioned,” he said.
Targeting Team Anna and its member Arvind Kejriwal in particular over their attack on Pranab Mukherjee, Singh said, “If you see the service record of Arvind Kejriwal, you will find that he had not followed the business rules as prescribed by Government of India for all IRS officers. “One who has not followed the prescribed service rules of GoI, then in what moral authority can you question others?” he asked.
He said that members of Team Anna are all “politically ambitious people”, who are using the image of Anna Hazare to further their own case.
The AICC leader dismissed reports of rating agencies like Standard and Poor’s and Fitch, which downgraded India’s credit rating. (PTI)