Congress gives opportunities to young across spectrum: RPN Singh
Former union minister and the Congress’s Jharkhand in-charge RPN Singh says the ongoing old versus young debate in the Congress is uncalled for.Updated: Aug 07, 2020 10:14 IST
Former union minister and Congress’ Jharkhand in-charge RPN Singh says younger leaders have always been given good opportunities in his party as compared to other political parties. He says the ongoing old versus young debate in the Congress is uncalled for. In an interview with Aurangzeb Naqshbandi, he says the Congress needs to have a rejuvenated party organization and a narrative that resonates with the people of the country for its revival.
Q: The seniors versus young leaders debate has reignited in the Congress. Are young leaders apprehensive of their future in the party with Rahul Gandhi apparently unwilling to assume the leadership role in the immediate future?
A: I disagree with this whole debate of young and old. It is uncalled for. If you read the history of the Congress party right from 1920s, there have always been younger people trying to occupy positions and that is true of any organisation. I would definitely like to say that a lot of young people have got great opportunity in the Congress and it is a continuing process. But I find it strange when a section of the media says that old people should be replaced by the young. Life is about competence and experience. Would you say Mahatma Gandhiji or Sardar Patel should have been removed from the freedom struggle because they were too old? Young people necessarily don’t attract young people. Ideas and narratives do.
Q: We saw the exit of Jyotiraditya Scindia and now the rebellion by Sachin Pilot. There seems to be a sense of despair in the party?
A: I would not like to comment on individuals. But there are many instances of younger people having got opportunity in the Congress party. As far as Ashok Gehlot government is concerned, it had majority yesterday, has it today and will prove it whenever asked to. There is absolutely no problem.
Q: Do you think time has come for senior leaders to make way for the young generation?
A: Age is just a number. Definitely younger people should be given opportunity and Rahulji has given opportunity to many many people across the country but everybody has to wait their turn. People do have ambitions but everybody’s ambitions cannot be fulfilled. And always remember one thing that time waits for nobody. If you are old and have become irrelevant, you will get pushed out on your own or people will push you out. People have their own capabilities and experience and age is just a factor. In the Congress party, younger people have been given opportunities across the spectrum even in the Rajya Sabha, which is the House of Elders. No other political party has done that. So, I can’t understand this debate.
Q: In the last CWC meeting, you suggested that instead of launching personal attacks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his policies should be criticised. Do you think that the move to attack Modi has backfired on the Congress?
A: Well, what I said in the CWC is something I would not like to discuss in the media. CWC is a forum where every member has full freedom to express his or her opinion in a most democratic manner. It finally takes the call and whatever the CWC decides, every member of the Congress party has to follow that.
Q: But what about the personal attacks on Modi? Do you think the Congress needs to change its strategy?
A: I personally feel whatever attack has to be launched on the government or its policies and its leaders should be formulated by the CWC and collectively endorsed by the party and every member should follow that and stick to those lines.
Q: But many Congress leaders say Rahul Gandhi is the only opposition leader who takes on Modi and Amit Shah and if he doesn’t who will?
A: I would like to say that as far as I am concerned I have taken on the Prime Minister, his policies and those of his government and the BJP at various forums – be as a party spokesperson or as in-charge of Jharkhand. In my capacity, I have done that and many others in the Congress are also doing that.
Q: You were a part of the UPA government in its second term. One of your party colleagues, Rajeev Satav, recently blamed the UPA 2 for the declining electoral fortunes of the Congress. We then saw a full blown war on the social media. What do you have to say?
A: I think he has already clarified that. He might have said something in his over exuberance and he has made amends by clarifying his remarks. Let’s end it there only. But the kind of dignity Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh brought to politics is something that needs to be learned by all.
Q: NCP chief Sharad Pawar has suggested that Rahul Gandhi should have conversation with his party leaders and also start touring the country. Is there a lack of conversation in the Congress?
A: I would not like to comment on what Pawarji has said. He is an extremely knowledgeable, experienced and has great understanding of politics. His party is our alliance partner in Maharashtra. All I would to like say that we don’t need to look elsewhere. We have the greatest example of how to conduct oneself as a leader with propriety, dignity and taking along everybody’s views. We have our Congress president Sonia Gandhi who has been the epitome of what a politician should be – dignified, calm, taking all views on board and reaching out to the poorest of the poor and her sacrifice is known to all. Also, the kind of progress we made under the leadership of Dr Manmohan Singh in his 10-years rule is something the entire country is proud of and his economic policies have been praised world over.
Q: But what about the suggestion of going on a nationwide yatra to reconnect with the masses? Also, do you think that hitting the streets is the only way for the party’s revival?
A: Every member of the Congress party wants Rahul Gandhi as its president. There is no doubt in anybody’s mind. In fact, nobody had asked him to step down when he took the moral responsibility for the 2019 election loss. He did that on his own. He is the leader of the Congress party. As far as the touring is concerned, it has to be done by all members of the Congress party but we need to have a rejuvenated organisation and a narrative that resonates with the people of the country. Unfortunately, all the travel plans have come to a standstill due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Q: Coming to your home state UP, do you see the revival of the Congress with other opposition parties ceding their space?
A: In Uttar Pradesh, new entrants have been given opportunities. There is definitely some plan and strategy. We have been in the party for many years and we are there for them. We will be helping and guiding them wherever needed.