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Arjun Singh seeks peace

india Updated: May 11, 2008 19:08 IST
PTI
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Under fierce attack from the party, senior Congress leader Arjun Singh on Sunday, sought to buy peace with the party high command by utilising the loyalty card and dismissing as "needless and irrelevant" controversies that surrounded him recently.

"This is a closed chapter as far as I am concerned," the beleaguered HRD Minister said in a statement a day after his remarks on loyalty as also internal democracy in the party created a storm and saw party chief Sonia Gandhi giving him a cold shoulder.

The septuagenarian leader said that he was "pained at the needless and irrelevant controversies" that are sought to be raised on the book on him published by Kanhaiya Lal Nandan and presented to President Pratibha Patil two days ago.

Singh's remarks at the book release function that the "evaluation of loyalty in the party was now being done in a very narrow context" was seen as a potshot at the Congress leadership.

His statement in an interview in the book "Mohin Kahan Vishram" that the decision making process in the party has "fallen in a bit of a disarray" also attracted widespread criticism.

In the statement, he sought to build bridges with the leadership by saying: "When I met Pandit Jawaharlal Nehruji in March 1960 I pledged my total loyalty to him and his family. This was the commitment, which is an article of faith with me.

"For the past 48 years of my life, I have scrupulously adhered to it. I shall also do everything to maintain the loyalty and commitment to the remaining members of the family till I live," he said.

At the book release function where he did not take the name of Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, in this statement too he spoke of the "remaining members of the family".

Besides, he said in the statement that though he would always be available to the media, he would not be able to answer any question relating to the recent controversies.

"This is a closed chapter as far as I am concerned," Singh, who has been not on the best of terms with the leadership for quite some time, said.

Congress high command in the past one month.

His statement that there was nothing wrong in projecting Rahul Gandhi as the Prime Ministerial candidate in the next polls got immediate rebuff. AICC said that Sonia and Rahul want to stay away from an atmosphere of sycophancy.

A couple of days back too, Singh's statement on the state of internal democracy in the party was outrightly rejected by the leadership.

In today's statement, Singh noted that the book was not his autobiography but a compilation of articles written by different people about him from time to time. "All these have already been published and the Granth (book) was presented to me on April 27, 2005."

"I am still writing my autobiography which will be published on a future date," he said without elaboration.

Singh's latest potshot at the leadership on the loyalty issue had stirred a hornet's nest. His friends and foes alike in the party targeted him amid signals that uncomfortable days are ahead for the leader who was once a close associate of Sonia Gandhi.

Digvijay Singh and Ajit Jogi, once close associates of Singh, too attacked him while AICC steered clear of the issue of disciplinary action against the senior leader.

A CWC member RK Dhawan bluntly told him that loyalty is decided by the leader and also by the deeds of the claimant and not his words.