After Chidambaram called Modi a ‘challenger’,Shinde says he is not

After Chidambaram called Modi a ‘challenger’,Shinde says he is not

Shinde said that Modi is not a challenge and Congress has overcome many challenges in the past too.

A day after Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram admitted that the Congress considers BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi a “challenger“,Home Minister on Monday argued that Modi was not a challenge to the Congress.

“Narendra Modi is not a challenge to the Congress. The Congress is a big party,very old party. It has already completed 120 years of its existence and it has its own identity,” said Shinde.

Asked about Chidambaram describing Modi as a “challenger”,Shinde said,“I cannot say about others. I am speaking on behalf of me and my party”. He said the Congress has overcome many challenges in the past too. “In 2004,there was a big challenge…India Shining. But people of this country gave the mandate to Congress,” he said.

During an interaction at the “ThinkFest” event in Goa on Sunday,Chidambaram said,“As a political party we acknowledge that he (Modi) is a challenger. We cannot ignore him because the principal opposition party has put Modi up as a challenger. So,as a political party,we have to take note of the challenger.”


He,however,added that “as an individual”,he was concerned about Modi’s ideology,philosophy and the kind of language that he uses. “So far,he has been extremely opaque. He has not spoken on any major issue that confronts the country. He has made promises… but these promises are not backed by any detailed plan or any ideology or any philosophy or any plan of action,” he said.

Denying that his party’s leadership has also not spoken on any major issues,Chidambaram said he has been speaking on the economy. “The Prime Minister speaks on various issues. He may not speak in an election rally,he may not give as many interviews as perhaps I would like him to give,but he does address audiences and there are written texts of his speeches. So you cannot say that he does not spell out what he stands for,” he said.

Asked about Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi,he said,“I think he has spelt out his views on some issues. I agree he has not spelt out his views on many issues. If I was advising him,I would certainly advise him to spell out his views on major issues in detail.”

“From what I am able to assess,the rank and file seems to think that if the party is voted back to power,Rahul should be the leader of the party and the leader of the government,” he said. “Irrespective of names and individuals,I believe the time has come to hand over the torch to the next generation… It doesn’t mean that everybody,say,who is older than 60 is swept aside.”

On the UPA government losing credibility,Chidambaram said,“Yes,I can sense… that the vote is negative at the moment. I can see that and I would be blind if I didn’t see that. The reason is slowdown in economic growth,the dysfunction of the executive,the cases or allegations of corruption,the investigations that are going on,inflation and a slowdown in job creation.”

This,he said,was the “potent mix of factors which has brought about a high degree of negativity. It is possible we may get over it and it is possible we don’t get over it. But that is a verdict that we will have to leave to the people. We will have to accept whatever verdict the people give.”

‘Shinde hints at delay in Telangana

In the first indication that the Andhra Pradesh Re-organisation Bill for the creation of Telangana may get delayed,Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said the process will be completed within the current tenure of the UPA but was non-committal on it being introduced in the winter session. “I can tell you the process for creation of Telangana will be completed during our present tenure in 2014,” he said. The Group of Ministers set up to look into the bifurcation will separately meet political parties of Andhra Pradesh on November 12 and 13. ENS

‘During NDA rule too Kashmiri separatists met Pak leaders in Delhi’

Reacting to BJP’s charge that the UPA government committed a “diplomatic blunder” by allowing Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif’s advisor Sartaj Aziz to meet Kashmiri separatists during his visit,Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said such meetings had taken place even during the NDA regime. Shinde said separatist leaders have been meeting Pakistani leaders on Indian soil since the days of NDA. “They have been meeting since 1999. When their PM came,then also they met. They met in October 2000 also…In 2001 also they met. They again met in 2003 and in March 2004 also,” Shinde said. Those who met Aziz include moderate leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq,JKLF chief Yaseen Malik,hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani and leaders of Dukhtaran-e-Millat. ENS