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Congress asks party leaders not to speak out of turn

In an apparent snub to party General Secretary Digvijay Singh whose recent statements led to controversies, Congress has come out with an order asking party leaders to restrict to their area of responsibility while interacting with the media or speaking publicly.

delhi Updated: Jul 21, 2010 12:45 IST

In an apparent snub to party General Secretary Digvijay Singh whose recent statements led to controversies, Congress has come out with an order asking party leaders to restrict to their area of responsibility while interacting with the media or speaking publicly.

"Restrict yourself to your area of responsibility and do not speak out of turn," says the directive issued by party General Secretary Janardhan Dwivedi, who is also Chairman of the party’s Media Department.

Dwivedi’s written directive comes close on the heels of Singh's claims in interviews to the media that his controversial article in a newspaper criticising Home Minister P Chidambaram's handling of the Maoist problem reflected the party's policy.

When Singh had written the article some two months back, the AICC had distanced itself from his views with Dwivedi asking partymen to refrain from airing their views publicly on issues which were not part of their responsibility.

The verbal directive has now been formally put on paper and has been issued to partymen at various levels including AICC office bearers, CWC members, heads of AICC departments and officials of the frontal organisations.

On his criticism of the Union Home Minister’s approach on the Maoist issue, Singh had claimed two days back, "I feel I did the right thing. What I have written, I stand by that and this is as per Congress' policies".

He had also made light of his comment dubbing Chidambaram as "intellectually arrogant".

"I don't regret it. It is more of a comment on a friend. Don't you make a comment on your own friend?", Singh had asked.

Party leaders admitted in private that Singh’s recent statements had led to the order.

The statements of Singh, who is party general secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh and a former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, on the Batla House encounter as also the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru had led to controversies and were seen as divergent from the stand taken by the Union Home Ministry.

Singh had been openly critical about the role of the police in the Batla House encounter in Delhi and had sought speedy trial of the accused.

Dwivedi's order has come ahead of the monsoon session of Parliament.

In the Budget session of Parliament, the opposition had targeted the ruling alliance for having differences over the issue of tackling Maoists, by pointing to Singh's article critical of the Union Home Minister’s approach.

Party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi, however, downplayed the order.

"This is simply a reiteration of the old established principle that everyone cannot speak and should not speak about everything.

"Different persons and different designations have been allocated different responsibilities and naturally they need to address to issues concerning their responsibility only," he said, claiming that the circular is "not person specific or issue specific, but general".