Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Friday said the Congress morale was “pretty low” at the moment and that both party president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi needed to “speak more”. They should show the “urgency” to reorganise the party and lead the Congress to play the role of the “true opposition”, Chidambaram told NDTV news channel. He also agreed a non-Gandhi could lead the party “some day”.
On the land deal between Sonia’s son-in-law Robert Vadra and real estate firm DLF in Haryana, he said, “I don’t know the facts. Whether they (the Haryana government) were helping him or whether they were taking a routine decision, I don’t know the facts. So how can I comment on that.”
“Without knowing the facts, I don’t think it is fair to comment on any particular transaction. Unless I have the papers in front of me, unless I have the facts in front of me, I can’t comment on any transaction,” he said. Asked if he was distancing himself from the issue, he said, “If I am obliged to comment, if I am authorised to comment, I will, provided I have before me the fact and the papers.”
Asked whether the Vadra issue created a perception problem for the Congress, he said, “May be it did. I don’t know.” Asked whether the party handled it effectively, he said, “I don’t know. May be it did, but these are questions which must be answered by people who were there in the field in Haryana, people who were contesting elections. I don’t know.”
Chidambaram said he was concerned about the lack of visibility of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. “I would urge the Congress president and the Congress vice-president to speak more. I would urge them to come and address more rallies, I would urge them to meet the media. I would urge them to do that,” he said.
He said Sonia continues to be “the most acceptable leader of his generation” and Rahul has wide acceptance among the younger members of the party. Asked whether a non-Gandhi could become the Congress president, he said, “I think so. Some day, yes.”
He agreed that the Congress morale was pretty low but said it can be lifted. “I agree that the Congress morale is pretty low. But I don’t agree that the morale cannot be lifted, that a direction cannot be given… It’s a matter of time, more accurately a matter of timing. I am sure that the Congress leadership has its own timetable. I would urge again that the timetable be shortened and get on with the job of reorganising the party and getting on with the job of being true opposition.” Asked whether he felt the Congress leadership need to respond with a little more urgency, he said, “I think so.”
“I have, not only I, others have urged that the reorganisation that was promised in the May 19th CWC resolution is overdue, we should get on with the job of reorganising the party and get on with the larger task of being a effective, strong, robust opposition to the government,” he said.
To another question on the perception of corruption associated with the Congress in Maharashtra and Haryana, where the party was defeated in the assembly elections, he said, “I am not happy there is this perception of corruption, but I think that is the way perception is built up at the end of the term. The mistakes committed by individuals or the excesses committed by individuals do leave a stain on the government as a whole.”
“Any government which has been in office for 10 years or 15 years is bound to face allegations of corruption. This has been our experience with every party in the country. The DMK, the AIADMK, at the end of every term, there is a perception of corruption and the government changes,” he said.