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Senior Congressmen will remain after Rahul becomes chief: Digvijaya

Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh has dismissed any talk of banishing seniors after Rahul Gandhi’s elevation as party President.

india Updated: Oct 22, 2015 19:40 IST
Digvijaya Singh,Rahul Gandhi,Indian National Congress
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi (second from left) and senior leader Digvijaya Singh (R) during an election rally in Meerut. Singh has rubbished rumours that Senior Congress leaders would be sidelined if Rahul become president.(PTI Photo)

Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh has dismissed any talk of banishing seniors after Rahul Gandhi’s elevation as party president as being rubbish.

He says the Congress will not borrow from BJP the idea of “Margadarshak Mandal” under which veterans have been assigned the role of mentoring in a virtual sidelining of them.

“The issue of elevation of Rahul Gandhi has to be decided by Congress president Sonia Gandhi and the Congress Working Committee. This is something Digvijay Singh cannot predict,” he said when asked about the talk that he could take over by March next year.

He said the grassroots Congress workers wanted the elevation to happen soon. “Yes, this is the common feeling among grassroots workers but when this decision can be taken only the Congress President can say,” he told PTI in an interview.

But when asked about another senior leader Jairam Ramesh’s comments that leaders above 60 years of age would only be in an advisory role after Rahul takes over, Singh said, “Why should we borrow the idea of Margdarshak Mandal from the BJP.

“I have not seen the statement of Jairam Ramesh. But Congress has always supported young people. It is not only today but even before independence and it (the Congress leadership) has been a combination of youth and experience.”

After assuming office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made BJP veterans like L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi members of the ‘Margdarshak Mandal’ of the party, virtually sidelining them any role in the organisation or the government.

Turning to Bihar Assembly elections, Singh said if the BJP led NDA loses in the polls, it will have some impact but pose no threat to the Modi government which has a mandate for five years.

“I don’t think there is a challenge to the NDA Government ...If they do not do well, they will certainly be questioned, “ he said.

The Congress general secretary, however, said “people were now realising their mistake” of having elected the Modi government under whose watch “forces of intolerance” were “on the rise”.

He said even though the Congress had called for unity secular forces for “tangible action” against those spreading hatred, one could not say “just now” if and when UPA III could be formed.

“Now people are realising their mistake....Whatever we have gained in the UPA regime, we are losing in Modi regime... You cannot say about UPA III just now,” he said.

Singh dismissed suggestions that Congress has lost its relevance after clinching its lowest ever tally of 44 seats in the Lok Sabha polls.

The senior Congress leader said though there was “negativity” because of the “failures” of the Modi government, the party cannot rely solely on that for its revival.

“Negativity plays a part (in revival of a party in opposition) as it creates an environment. But, at the same time, you cannot rely on negativity alone. There has to be a well drawn out strategy of detailed constructive idea to bring about socio-economic-political change in the country,” he said.

Singh also took a dig at Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for his criticism of the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the National Judicial Appointments Commission. Jaitley had called it a “tyranny of the unelected”.

“I was very surprised to see Arun Jaitley’s statement about how can the unelected dictate terms in a democracy. What about Jaitley himself? Does he have the right to question the judiciary and question them,” he said. Jaitley is a member of the Rajya Sabha and thus not directly elected by the people.

First Published: Oct 22, 2015 19:26 IST