Congress Working Committee member Satyavrat Chaturvedi seems to have a habit of making enemies, annoying colleagues and courting controversy.
The 60-year-old leader, who hails from Madhya Pradesh and represents Uttarakhand in the Rajya Sabha, has the dubious distinction of being twice removed as party spokesperson within two years for violating coalition dharma and abusing — not just criticising — the Congress’s allies in the government.
But the former Lok Sabha member — who cracks nuts, chews paan, writes poems and speaks chaste Hindi — also has a reputation for bouncing back, and no one knows when and how he manages to do that.
Chaturvedi, whose father was a minister in the Madhya Pradesh government and mother a long-term MP, wears his loyalty to the Congress and the Nehru-Gandhi family on his sleeve.
He was removed as spokesperson in January 2009 when he rubbed Amar Singh — then in the Samajwadi Party — the wrong way by advising him to seek psychiatric help for criticising the Congress leadership. Amar cried foul and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told Chaturvedi to exercise restraint. Sensitive to the concerns of the SP — which backed the UPA when the Left withdrew support — the Congress dropped him as spokesperson.
Exactly 13 months later, the story was replayed. Chaturvedi was removed as spokesperson, this time for his abusive comment about NCP leader and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar in the context of price rise during a TV interview. Once again, the Congress’s action against Chaturvedi was dictated by the need to keep the coalition intact.
But big question arose that if Chaturvedi was removed in 2009, when was he re-inducted as spokesman? True to the Congress’s style of functioning, there was no answer forthcoming. All Chaturvedi would say was that unlike the earlier occasion, this time “it was officially communicated that I have been relieved of my responsibilities as a spokesman”.
However, between his two removals, the CWC member who is in charge of the AICC department and cell has not addressed any news conference, appearing instead, like any other Congressman, on cameras and in studios to make a point. This includes the issue of prices rise and the food situation, which he publicly said were mishandled by Pawar. In fact, the party had last year distanced itself from his remarks while calling on partymen not to express their so-called personal views in public.
As spokesperson, Chaturvedi was a nightmare for scribes not familiar with the chaste Hindi he used even though he was bilingual.