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Power Of One Team

Sreenivasan Jain:  Hello and welcome to this Power Of One exclusively quite simply with the irrepressible Digvijay Singh. Thanks very much indeed for talking to us. Clearly all this talk of  the gag order is just talk because here you are talking to us, I hope more candidly?


Digvijay Singh: First let me put it across, and put it on record that I am not the official spokesperson of the congress party and I have never claimed that. Number 2 probably all those who have claimed that I have said something wrong I am sure they have not seen the whole interview


Sreenivasan Jain:  You are saying you were misquoted?


Digvijay Singh: The interview I gave to Karan Thappar. Anyway I am again speaking to you and all my views would be my personal and not the official version of the Congress Party

Sreenivasan Jain:  But you personally felt at least during the interview that you said you are miss quoted but it seam to indicate that as per the Congress in concern, there is a limit of how much you can take of someone's behavior, you have believed to also using word like irrational and immature do you stand by that do you believe that there has been a limit reached with Mamata Banerjee?


Digvijay Singh: I stand by every word that I have said


Sreenivasan Jain:  So you do believe that Mamata Banerjee was irrational and immature in her behavior when it came to this entire process of Presidential election?


Digvijay Singh: I stand by every word that I have said


Sreenivasan Jain:  Ok then let me not just pin you down with what you have said but to ask you as far as congress is concerned do you believe that you have reached a limit with a Trinamool congress?


Digvijay Singh: No.


Sreenivasan Jain:  You think there is still scope for flexibility and acceptance?


Digvijay Singh: Yes


Sreenivasan Jain:  Why is that because here is someone who by all accounts took all of you by surprise, when she came out and announced three other candidates once she discussed with the Congress President with someone who is an alley supporting you from the outside what further provocation really do you need?


Digvijay Singh: My only surprise was that such senior experienced people declared names of such senior political leaders or senior leaders I would say leaders not political leaders because Kalam saab can't be called political


Sreenivasan Jain: Including the Prime Minister.


Digvijay Singh: Without their consent, how can you declare a candidate, without taking the consent of the candidate hinself


Sreenivasan Jain:  That really surprised you,


Digvijay Sing: That surprised me


Sreenivasan Jain: Was the Congress completely unprepared for this, because there were all these conspiracy theories that Mamata Banerjee hd silently discussed all of this with Sonia Gandhi so on and so forth?


Digvijay Singh: I don’t know, I don’t think so.


Sreenivasan Jain:  But the party was taken aback when this happened?


Digvijay Singh: Well certainly we were surprised.


Sreenivasan Jain:  Again when I come back to that when somebody who is an alley of yours who is a part of the government goes and does that, doesn't that merit some kind of merit or some kind of response from the merit because again it becomes to all of those watching from the outside, it becomes a question that how much can a Congress take?


Digvijay Singh: We are not the only one Shiv Sena and JDU have ditched BJP also


Sreenivasan Jain:  That's true that's a separate house this is not your house you have to take your house in Order?


Digvijay Singh: While TMC has not yet ditched us.


Sreenivasan Jain: They have not ditched you but they have publicly embarrassed your own account?


Digvijay Singh: That is Mamata


Sreenivasan Jain:   How much of the internal embarrassment was it for you when the name of the Prime Minister was declared, obviously internally there was no question of ever considering that but at the same time she floats his name and you can’t obviously seem to be backing that name.


Digvijay Singh: Well it was certainly an embarrassment to the Prime Minister himself


Sreenivasan Jain:   It was?


Digvijay Singh: Obviously yes.


Sreenivasan Jain:  And for the party as well


Digvijay Singh: To a great extend yes


Sreenivasan Jain:  Is it safe to say that it was never the name in consideration, the prime minister was never actually considered as a serious contender for that post?


Digvijay Singh: To the best of my knowledge no


Sreenivasan Jain: But let me ask you bluntly do you think Prime Minister, do you think Manmohan Singhji would have made a good President or could have been a potential candidate?


Digvijay Singh: I don’t have to react to that.


Sreenivasan Jain:  This is surprising from Digvijay Singh he normally reacts to everything.


Digvijay Singh: When it concerns the Prime Minister and the post of President I have to be very careful.


Sreenivasan Jain:  Is this because of that the fact that your party has reprimanded you?


Digvijay Singh: No


Sreenivasan Jain: But was that statement that they issued after your comments


Digvijay Singh: If that was so I wouldn't have been talking to you.


Sreenivasan Jain:  Well you are known to be someone who is blunt speaker and someone who has your own view but was that, we interpreted as a gag order was that a reprimand and it was said that all the views that are expressed by you were your own?


Digvijay Singh: Absolutely correct because this is not the first time I am not the official spokesperson and this has been issued once earlier also this is not the first time


Sreenivasan Jain:  But this is also true that you have said a lot of things that were not aligned with the party and never had to come out and clarify was there a perception that some where you have crossed the line?


Digvijay Singh: Let me be very clear I raised the issue of Sangh terror I was correct I was critisised by the media by everybody that what is he talking about but that has now come true. I raised the issue of Baba Ramdev and I have been proved right when enforcement directorate issued notices to him, I was from the beginning saying that Anna Hazare is the front for the BJP RSS, now again this has been proved correct.


Sreenivasan Jain:  I don't want to get into those debates with you or we will get completely diverted


Digvijay Singh: But let me finish every time what I have said which people thought was controversial has ultimately proved right.


Sreenivasan Jain:  So in some ways you are saying that what you have said about Mamata Banerjee the fact that she is immature and irrational that the party might be reaching a limit with her you think could be proved correct


Digvijay Singh: She is younger to me and she is been a great friend also a colleague also and she is unpredictable but a great fighter I think no one could have faced the kind of onslaught which left front let on her and she faced it very bravely one of the greatest political leaders that we have today


Sreenivasan Jain:  But does that therefore disappoint you when you see her behaving in ways which don’t concern to that political legacy?


Digvijay Singh: She has been like this always.


Sreenivasan Jain:  But this is what I wanted to ask you and not to pin you down on this but it seems that and it’s not just true for the UPA even with in the NDA, but you are not the member of the NDA so I can only ask you about UPA that it does seem that there is going to be a re-alignment of forces as a result of this particular election would you at least concede that there is a possibility that might happened?


Digvijay Singh:  No I cant predict that at the moment but I personally feel that the UPA partners would stay together


Sreenivasan Jain:  They will stay together including Mamata Banerjee


Digvijay Singh: Infact it is the NDA that has to worry.


Sreenivasan Jain:  Ok so let us assume that Mamata Banerjee does not support Pranab Mukherjee then there is a possibility that she might support PA Sangma or take her own path is the congress is preparing themselves for that eventuality would you atleast consid that that is the possibility which may well occur?


Digvijay Singh: As far as she doesn't take a view or she doesn't announce that whether she is supporting Pranabda or Sangma I think it will be too immature to react to that.


Sreenivasan Jain:  And the possibility of Mulayam Singh replacing her, is that a likely hood 


Digvijay Singh: Mulayam Singhji has been supporting UPA from 2004 and therefore he has been quite consistent as far as this is concerned.


Sreenivasan Jain:  But he is been so far supporting from the outside now there is no secret that there is clear talk that in the light of what has happened he might actually merge and become a part of the UPA he might replace Mamata Banerjee is that a possibility would you concede that?


Digvijay Singh: I think that is the issue that has to be decided by the congress leadership, and I think that when you talk of some party joining the government we have to look at the numbers in the ministry also if there are vacancies because earlier we could have a lot more ministers but after it has been amended there is a capping on the size of the ministry so there are some issues that have to be addressed if this has to happened.


Sreenivasan Jain:  : If he is replacing the ally like Mamata Banerjee then you won’t have that problem


Digvijay Singh: This is something on which I can’t comment at the moment


Sreenivasan Jain: Politically are there any reservation the Congress or you would have against someone like Mulayam joining the government


Digvijay Singh: As far as I am concern I have no such reservations


Sreenivasan Jain:  Some say that because of the past experience there are some question marks about the demands Mulayam Singh will make, there are CBI cases against him?


Digvijay Singh: Don't forget that he has supported us going out of the way in Nuclear Bill


Sreenivasan Jain:  So you are saying as far as you are concerned you have no issues for him joining the government?


Digvijay Sing: As far as I am concerned I have no issues


Sreenivasan Jain:  It's another matter whether he will be willing to do that or not?


Digvijay Singh: Well yes


Sreenivasan Jain:  What about sir the question of the Finance Ministry because we are going through economically difficult time and that very important post has now fallen vacant? Some believe that in the light of current political environment it makes sense for someone like the Prime Minister to retain that post till such time an appropriate candidate is found would you accept that?


Digvijay Singh: Let’s not forget that it was Dr Manmohan Singh as a Finance Minister who led the recovery of the Indian economy in 1991 and now that he is the Prime Minister himself I think let us wait and leave this decision to him because he has the capacity and the abality to lead the India economy recovering once again at the same time let us also face facts that inspire of the worldwide recession where every other country is facing similar problem, India is one country who has been able to neutralise this to a great extent


Sreenivasan Jain:  Sure. But you have not answered my question which is that do you think in the light of what you have said given the Prime Ministers own skills managing the economy that perhaps at least temporarily if not in the longer term he retains that portfolio?


Digvijay Singh: Well leave this to him.


Sreenivasan Jain:  But what do you think, will it be a good idea from your point of view?


Digvijay Singh: Certainly a person who has led a recovery of Indian economy which was in a much worse condition in 1991 than what it is today, I think he has the capacity and the ability to lead another recovery this time also.


Sreenivasan Jain:  So in a way you are saying that retaining the Finance Portfolio, Prime Minister retaining the finance portfolio may not be a bad thing


Digvijay Singh: Well leave it to him


Sreenivasan Jain:  What about some of the other candidates that are doing the rounds there has been a immense amount of speculation about him as someone who is meant to be on the inside track, perhaps you can give us an Idea as far as who is ahead and who is behind?


Digvijay Singh: For Ministry of Finance?


Sreenivasan Jain:  : That's right we have heard the names of Mr Chidambram and Mr Jairam Ramesh, Anand Sharma, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, and C Rangarajan?


Digvijay Singh: All these names have been floated by media


Sreenivasan Jain:  None of these names are in serious contentions is that what you are saying?


Digvijay Singh: Because I am not quite in the loop


Sreenivasan Jain:  Few people believe that Digvijay Singh is not in the loop but let me put it to you slightly differently do you believe again as Digvijay Singh at a time like this it is better to have somebody who is a political figure or political appointee someone who is more like a technocrat? Managing a sensitive Ministry like Finance?


Digvijay Singh: Let me put it this way, when Dr Manmohan Singhji became the Finance Minister he was seen as the technocrat but he has proved himself to be a very very fine political person also. So I think let us not get into the


Sreenivasan Jain:  So I think what you are saying is that there is nothing wrong with the possibility iof a technocrat someone like Montek Singh  or Dr Rangarajan to be given that post?


Digvijay Singh: I would say that leave this decision to the Prime Minister because he understands the economyand the  Finance Ministry better than you and me and therefore I think let him decide with who would be the best person to be the Finance Minister at this crucial period  


Sreenivasan Jain:  No of course that the decision rests entirely with him, all I can do is try and get a sense from you that what is the thinking within the party, so what you are saying is that somebody who is a technocrat that they will not have the ability to manage both the economy and the politics of the Ministry like Finance?  


Digvijay Singh: Well I told you that Dr Manmohan Singh was not a political person when he became the Finance Minister and he handed it beautifully 


Sreenivasan Jain:  What about those like Mr Chidambaram and Mr Jairam Ramesh and the other political names that are doing the rounds Anand Sharma, do you believe all or anyone of them have the acumen for this portfolio


Digvijay Singh: Yes they are very competent persons


Sreenivasan Jain:  And so it could be any of them


Digvijay Singh: I can't say anything on that


Sreenivasan Jain:  Mr Singh  tell me we heard far less of you that we used to earlier post the UPA elections is there a conscious reason for that


Digvijay: No in fact just after the UPA elections I had to go to the U.S. for a personal reason and therefore I was out for a month and after that I have been seen around


Sreenivasan Jain:  But is it fair to say that after the UP elections because of the results quite a part of the personal reasons that kept you away this was the Congress disastrous performance you went underground?


Digvijay Singh: I don't consider UP elections disaster for congress party


Sreenivasan Jain:  How could you possibly say that?


Digvijay Singh: Because Congress Party and the Samajwadi Party are the only political parties who increased their vote share BSP and BJP both came down quite a lot. In all elections of the UP since 1993 Congress Party has never crossed 7.6-7.7% votes in Uttar Pradesh,

Sreenivasan Jain: Many also saw it a defeat of Rahul Gandhi's own political leadership this was supposed to be a big test case for him and many believed that he spectacularly failed


Digvijay Singh: If we had projected Mr Rahul Gandhi as a Chief Minister of UP then what you have said may have been correct but it was not so.


Sreenivasan Jain:  But he led the campaign 


Digvijay Singh: He led the campaign vigorously and that's why the vote share has gone up


Sreenivasan Jain:  I know that you are saying that the vote share has gone up but then it has become more of a saffological quible, the fact is that you have got far lesser seats than expected 


Digvijay Singh: No but we have got more than what we got in 2007


Sreenivasan Jain:  So you believe that there is no question at all on Rahul Gandhi's political acumen at all


Digvijay: Not at all


Sreenivasan Jain:  And does he continue to be a serious contender to lead the party and perhaps even the government, which the views that you shared with me almost a year ago?


Digvijay Singh:Yes I stand by that


Sreenivasan Jain:  You told me about a year ago that Rahul Gandhi would make a very good Prime Minister, you still stand by it?


Digvijay Singh: I still stand by it


Sreenivasan Jain:  And you have also indicated that it’s time to bring in fresh blood and bring in the change, do you think that is the time or do you have to think that again


Digvijay Singh: No I have been saying that publicly even in the ASE session I have said that the demographic profile of this country is changing,Therefore I think there is a need for change in the political demographic profile of the Congress Party across the board


Sreenivasan Jain: Across the board. But you are talking about it more at a mass organisational level I am talking about from dead to the top? But when should that change happen?


Digvijay Singh: Allow this be decided by the leadership


Sreenivasan Jain:  Do you think that in your, In Digvijay Sing’s view the time is now and the change should happen now


Digvijay Singh: I think as far as the Prime Minister thing is concerned there is no question of any change to 2014


Sreenivasan Jain:  No question of replacing Dr Singh till 2014


Digvijay Singh:: No question. At the same time you will see a greater role of Mr Rahul Gandhi in the main stream congress Party


Sreenivasan Jain:  In the main stream of the Congress Party


Digvijay Singh: Because till now he has been concentrating on the youth and students so there is a possibility that he may be now coming in the main stream of the congress party


Sreenivasan Jain:  When you say main stream what do you mean by that?


Digvijay Singh:: Well handling more responsibility in the ICC


Sreenivasan Jain:  More of a national role you mean. But sir some would say that he is already doing that while he is also handling the Youth Congress, he is been fairly involved in national level decision making


Digvijay Singh:: No I have seen this very closely he does not interfere what so ever neither in the government nor in the party at the national level


Sreenivasan Jain: But you are saying that could happened now going forward


Digvijay Singh: Yes, not in the government but otherwise yes


Sreenivasan Jain:  Is there a possibility that the Rahul Gandhi may be taking over as party President any time soon


Digvijay Singh: No I don’t think so Congress President will be Mrs Sonia Gandhi


Sreenivasan Jain:  But Rahul will certainly play a greater role at a party level on the national stage


Digvijay Singh: It looks likely


Sreenivasan Jain: You are saying that as far as the post of the President is concerned that remains with Sonia Gandhi you also argued that Sonia Gandhi is doing an admirable job, but there has been some concerns about her health and the responsibility she faces so in that context could we see Rahul taking on a greater role towards the responsibility she is playing with perhaps of a view down the line replacing her as party President



Digvijay Singh: As far as I know concerned she is feeling much better now and she is quite active


Sreenivasan Jain:  Would you say that she is almost back to her normal schedule or there is few 20-40%


Digvijay Singh:jay: Almost back to a normal schedule


Sreenivasan Jain:  Siris it possible to be  little more specific about some of the areas you think Rahul might be looking at, would it be more reviving organisation or so on


Digvijay Singh: Well we have to be prepare for the 2014 elections and I think we have to make a strategy at least in advance, what should be our issues our campaign strategy how far should we be selecting our own candidates all these issues have to be decided by the party 


Sreenivasan Jain:  And the process should start now in advance and Rahul might play a role in those processes. What about Rahul joining the government then, it has been in talks for many many years to help to galvanise and bring in fresh blood to the government


Digvijay Singh: I have never said that he should be coming to the government if you follow all my statement from 2004 to 2012, I have always been saying that Rahulji would be joining the government


Sreenivasan Jain:  But you also said that he would make a great Prime Minister


Digvijay Singh: But that doesn't mean that I am trying to say that Dr Manmohan Singh has to be changed because the fact remains that the Congress Party has made it abundantly clear that Dr Manmohan Singh should continue till 2014


Sreenivasan Jain:  How will you manage without Pranab Mukherjee, who will be the congress or the UPA's fire fighter?


Digvijay Singh: Well firefighting is always not easy, but there is no lack of available talent  


Sreenivasan Jain:  Give me some examples


Digvijay Singh: If you look around  the UPA we have so many experience people all around


Sreenivasan Jain:  Its precisely for that reason that those many question are raised given all that experience are still comes down to Pranab Mukherjee, he is always there solving many crises 


Digvijay Singh: Because he was there, once he is not there we will have to find someone else


Sreenivasan Jain: Someone has to strp up to that rank, could it be Digvijay Sing


Digvijay Singh: No I am out of the government



Sreenivasan Jain: So last question to you, so what are you focusing on, what is your area of focus? 


Digvijay Singh: I have taken a vow that I will not take part in elections till 2013 November that will expire in a year and half from now so I am certainly not going to fight state assembly elections which is due in 2013 but would certainly like to contest 2014 Parliament elections


Sreenivasan Jain:  You would and you believe that the party will be okey with that?


Digvijay Singh: If the party of course decides to make me fight


Sreenivasan Jain:  And why is that, why you throwing your hat in the rain for the national elections would you like to play a greater role on the national stage or 


Digvijay Singh: I have been in the state politics for a long time 10 years as CM, 7 years as PCC President, 5 years as a Minister


Sreenivasan Jain:  For the first several years you were not in the state politics, you have been on the national stage 


Digvijay Singh: No no from the very beginning I became MLA in 1977


Sreenivasan Jain: No I am just talking of the recent past


Digvijay Singh: Since 2004 I have been here the congress president has appointed me as the general secretary I handle other states also, I would be very happy working for the party rather than going to the government


Sreenivasan Jain:  But then why would you like to fight elections


Digvijay Singh: Because after all every political person wants to fight elections


Sreenivasan Jain:  Are there any other ambitions beyond just being an MP you would like to share with us?


Digvijay Singh: Well Mukader ki bat hai, but the fact remains that I would be very happy working for the party


Sreenivasan Jain:  And possibly the government if the UPA comes back to power


Digvijay Singh: Let’s see


Sreenivasan Jain:  Digvijay singh thanks very much for talking to us


Digvijay Singh: Thank you

7 years ago

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