We have nothing to hide'

Published : Jan 14, 2011 00:00 IST

DIGVIJAY SINGH, CONGRESS general secretary. - PTI

DIGVIJAY SINGH, CONGRESS general secretary. - PTI

DIGVIJAY SINGH, general secretary of the Congress, said the party had no reason to be defensive on any front. Dismissing reports of dissension at the just-concluded plenary session of the party in Delhi, the two-time Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh said the party stood united under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi. Excerpts from an interview:

What are the principal messages that have emerged from the Congress plenary session?

This plenary marks the 125th anniversary of the Congress, and a number of principal messages have emanated from this conclave. To start with, the Congress president has a given a strong message that the party will not tolerate corruption at any level. She has also exposed the double standards of the BJP on this issue. The Congress has also come out strongly against majority and minority religious fundamentalism. The plenary also underlined the fact that dialogue is the only way to resolve all kinds of insurgency.

It is felt that the Congress was on the defensive on several fronts, including corruption charges against party leaders and others in the UPA government, the revolt in the State party units and the failure to bring about an electoral revival in Bihar.

There is no question of being defensive on any front. We have nothing to hide. The Congress has weathered worse storms, and a few electoral reverses won't make a difference. Our party in Bihar was quite weak, which the Congress president herself has admitted, and there is a need to rejuvenate it in such States.

Your comments on Hindutva terror have been characterised by the BJP and its associates in the Sangh Parivar as a diversionary tactic aimed at distracting attention from vital issues.

Why should I divert the focus from 2G? We have nothing to hide. In fact it was the Government of India that registered the first information report with the Central Bureau of Investigation to investigate the 2G scam long before the demand for a JPC probe was raised by the Opposition. If the Opposition had allowed a discussion in Parliament, we would have exposed the involvement of BJP leaders when they changed the policy goal post in 1999 to suit the licensees after the auction, resulting in a loss of Rs.1,43,000 crore to the exchequer until 2010. When 2G is being investigated by the CBI, the Income Tax Department, the Directorate of Enforcement and the Public Accounts Committee, what is the need for a JPC?

Even if a JPC is constituted and it comes out with a finding, the case will have to be investigated by these agencies and cases made out against the culprits. I cannot understand why they do not trust the wisdom of Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, the Chairman of the PAC. As far as price rise is concerned, Parliament discussed the issue at length in the last session. We could have discussed it in the winter session too if they had allowed Parliament to function.

Several observers have pointed out that two distinct streams of politics were visible at the plenary. One, an aggressive, opposition-like championing of issues by leaders like you, who are essentially associated with the party organisation. Two, a more moderate, development-oriented line taken by leaders in the government. There is also the view that such divergent lines may not produce positive results for the party or the government led by it.

It is not correct at all. All resolutions were passed unanimously. The debate was extensive, and amendments were moved and some were accepted. The party stands united under the leadership of Mrs. Sonia Gandhi.

There were calls at the plenary to leave candidate selection for the general election to State units. Do you think this will work given the Congress culture of centralised decision-making?

Selection of candidates is through a well-established process of consultation with block, district and State units. Proposals are then screened at the AICC and put up before the Central Election Committee, which finally decides the candidates. This is the process that every political party follows.

Congress leaders from West Bengal and Tamil Nadu complained at the plenary that they were being ill-treated by their regional allies such as the Trinamool Congress and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. Is the party well prepared to face elections in these States?

Each State unit, after due consultations within its ranks, sends suggestions to the party's Central Election Committee, which then takes a decision. Coalition politics is not new to us in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, and I think to fight the well-entrenched Left Front in West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress and the Congress need each other.

Venkitesh Ramakrishnan
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