Three days ahead of the AICC session, Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh on Tuesday expressed reservations about projection of Rahul Gandhi as the PM candidate. He said the elected representatives should not be deprived of their right to elect their leader and it was not the practice of the Congress to declare its PM or CM candidate before elections. He said this was his personal opinion and the party would take a call.
“Personally, my view is that Rahul has the ability to lead the nation, and if the people of this country give a mandate to the Congress and the party decides, he has the courage of conviction and the capacity and ability to lead the nation. But my view has always been that in a parliamentary democracy we should not be declaring our PM or CM candidate and take away the right of the elected representatives to choose their own leader,” he told The Indian Express.
His remarks came on a day Rahul — in an interview published in a Hindi daily — indicated he is ready to be the PM if his party returns to power. Said to be hesitant to take up the responsibility even as the chorus to declare him the PM candidate grows in the party, Rahul said he has never been reluctant. He said he would take up whatever work his party gives him.
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Singh said the Congress was not shy of projecting Rahul as the PM candidate. “Don’t see this as a sign of weakness. We have the courage to face any adversity. For whatever little I have known of Rahul Gandhi, he has the courage to face any adversity. Let us not also not forget the fact that Indira Gandhi fought aggressively against all odds even in the worst scenario. Sonia Gandhi too faced adversities and came out of it. What was the situation of the Congress when she took over. It was in dumps and we have recovered,” he said.
While Rahul — in his interview to Dainik Bhaskar signaled willingness to take up the PM’s post — he did not indicate if he would be the PM candidate, saying his party has never been specific on this.
He made it clear that his sister Priyanka Vadra would not take up any electoral role. “Priyanka is my sister and friend. Besides, she is an active member of the Congress, because of which she is helping to strengthen me and the organisation. I do not think she will have any electoral role,” he said.
On whether he would take up the PM’s post, he said, “We are a democratic organisation. We believe in democracy. The people of the country will decide through the elected representatives who will be the PM. It is imperative in the national interest that the Congress comes to power. And for that, whatever responsibility the organisation has given me and will give in the future, I will carry that out with full dedication.”
On his earlier remarks that “power is poison”, which were being interpreted as his reluctance on the PM post, he said, “Power is poison does not mean I am not keen to take up responsibility. There is no word called reluctance in my life. Power is poison is an observation about the dangers that come with power and how to deal with it.”
Asked why the party was not declared its PM candidate, he said, “The Congress has never been specific on this. Whatever work the Congress has given me, I have accomplished it, and whatever it will give I will complete it… I am a solider of the Congress. I will follow whatever order is given to me.”