Collected from Rediff .com on 20th July 2011
Digvijay Singh and foot-in-mouth syndrome
Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh is known for his penchant for making drastic statements. His readiness to wade into tricky situations is seen as a costly addiction as it often leaves the party red faced. Instances of Singh retracting his statements and the party distancing itself from them are innumerable.
Rediff.com takes a look at some of the remarks made by the Congress leader that have raised quite a storm in political circles, the most recent one being on the Mumbai's triple blasts.
'Can't rule out RSS hand in Mumbai blast
Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh on Saturday courted yet controversy this time by saying that he did not rule out the involvement of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in Mumbai serial blasts, evoking sharp criticism and condemnation from the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Even as various intelligence agencies are yet to get a breakthrough in the Mumbai blasts, Singh did not rule out the involvement of the Sangh in the bombings.
"I do not rule out anything. If they want evidence about Sangh's involvement in terror activity, I have got evidence. But not in this case," Singh told the media.
Reacting sharply to the Congress leader's comments, the BJP termed them as "disgusting and objectionable" and sought an apology from Congress president Sonia Gandhi for what Singh had said.
'Feel sorry for Kalmadi, he's innocent'
Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh only recently sympathised with scam-tainted party leaders member of Parliament Suresh Kalmadi and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan saying he felt both of them were innocent.
"We feel sorry for Suresh Kalmadi who is suffering hardships, and also for Ashok Chavan. In my personal opinion, both of them are innocent. But whenever any corruption charges are levelled, Soniaji has to take action," he said.
'Even to teach yoga Ramdev charges Rs 50,000'
On June 2, the Congress general secretary attacked Baba Ramdev, just before he went on an agitation on the issue of corruption and black money, dubbing him more of a businessman than a sanyasi.
"Even to teach yoga, he charges Rs 50,000 from those who sit in the front seats, Rs 30,000 for the backseat and Rs 1,000 for the last seat. What else is this?" he said.
Two separate complaints were on Wednesday filed in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh against Singh for allegedly calling Ramdev a 'thug.'
As Ramdev went on his fast, the Congress leader described it as a 'five star satyagraha'.
"What kind of satyagraha is this of a Baba who travels in a jet and gets all sorts of five star services? He is holding this fast on an issue he does not even know about," claimed Singh.
'PM should be brought under Lokpal's ambit'
As the debate over bring the prime minister under the purview of the Lokpal Bill continued, the Congress general secretary said that he favoured bringing the prime minister and the higher judiciary under the ambit of Lokpal.
"My view is that the prime minister, judiciary, NGOs and industrial houses should also be brought under the ambit of Lokpal. But there should be a system to ensure that the Lokpal does not misuse its power," Singh told reporters at his hometown Raghogarh on June 12.
The next day Singh retracted from his statement that the prime minister should come within the ambit of Lokpal, as the party distanced itself from his remarks. "My stand is the same as that of the party. Let the Lokpal drafting committee decide. I will go with that decision and the decision of the party," he said, as he got into the damage control mode.
'Rahul can become PM now'
Rahul Gandhi was now a mature person with sound political instincts and can become the prime minister, Singh had said last month.
"I think it is time that Rahul can become the prime minister," Singh said, talking to mediapersons. "Rahul is now 40 and he has been working for the party for the last seven to eight years," Singh said.
The scion of the Gandhi family had the right qualities, instincts and experience to take up the mantle of prime minister-ship now, Singh said.
Coming under severe criticism for his statement, he clumsily retracted it. He later said Dr Manmohan Singh is a "fairly good prime minister."
'A state burial for Osama ji'
Welcoming United States action against Osama bin Laden after the Abbottabad operation on May 2, Singh said "Osamaji had been living in Pakistan for so many years, how is it possible that the Pakistani authorities could not locate him."
He had also made an inflammatory remark about bin Laden, saying that he should have been given a proper state burial.
He later dismissed his remark as "media creation". "Absolutely yes, thanks to media. What I can do when the media did not understand my sarcasm regarding Osama found near the Pakistan military academy," he said.
'Been a victim of Chidambaram's intellectual arrogance'
In a strongly-worded article in a leading newspaper in April, Singh questioned Home Minister P Chidambaram's strategy of treating the Naxal issue as a law and order problem, and called for a rethink of the counter-Maoist strategy.
"In this case (regarding Maoists), I have differed with his (Chidambaram's) strategy that does not take into consideration the people living in the affected areas, who ultimately matter. He is treating it purely as a law and order problem without taking into consideration the issues that affect the tribals", Singh said.
The former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh he went on to say that he knew Chidambaram since 1985 when he and the home minister were both elected to the Parliament. "He is extremely intelligent, articulate, committed and a sincere politician -- but extremely rigid once he makes up his mind. I have been a victim of his intellectual arrogance many times, but we still are good friends," he said.
'Blasts began after Advani's rath yatra'
After giving 'Sanghi terrorism' tag to saffron outfits, Singh in February alleged that the sequence of blasts in the country began after L K Advani's rath yatra and stopped after arrest of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh activists in terror cases.
"Behind all the blasts in the country are people having fanatic ideology and the sequence of blast cases began after the rath yatra of Advani and since the RSS people have been caught, it has been stopped," he said.
'Hindutva hardliners may have killed Karkare'
In December at the launch of the book, RSS is saazish - 26/11?, the Congress general secretary created quite a storm after he said that the slain Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare called him just two hours before the Lashkar attack on Mumbai to say that he feared for his safety from Hindutva hardliners.
Singh, who said he had known the slain cop because his family hailed from Madhya Pradesh, claimed that Karkare told him that he had received anonymous threats from those upset with his investigation into the Malegaon blast.
Karkare's widow Kavita, however, debunked his claim, saying that her husband never talked to Singh. "Such statements will mislead people and benefit Pakistan," she said.
'RSS is worried, BJP is scared, Congress confident'
Congress leader Digvijay Singh has once again launched a scathing attack on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Singh, who had on Sunday launched the attack against the RSS calling them Nazis and linking them to terror, continued in the same breath and said that unlike the BJP the Congress had nothing to hide.
"The RSS is a worried lot, as their people are getting caught in terror probes and the BJP is scared by what may emerge at the end of these investigations," the controversial Congress leader said, speaking to media persons on the sidelines of the 83rd Congress plenary at New Delhi on Monday.
On his remarks regarding his talk with the slain Anti-Terrorist Squad chief Hemant Karkare, he stuck to his stand to having spoken the latter. He, however, also added that he had requested Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited, but they have not provided him with the call records.
'PM's statement was a masterstroke'
With regards to Uttar Pradesh, Singh said that the Congress will contest the elections alone and will not tie up with anyone.
Asked about the Bihar debacle, he said UP couldn't be compared with Bihar. In Bihar, we won 2 out of 40 Lok Sabha seats where as in UP we won 22 out of 80. So our assembly performance in UP will be proportionately better.
On Assam, which goes to polls in 2011, he said the Congress was expecting a big win irrespective of allying with a party or going it alone.
Singh rubbished BJP leader Arun Jaitley's remark that the Prime Minister was hiding something on the 2G scam. He said that Dr Manmohan Singh had answered all questions during his speech at the plenary on Monday morning.
He also termed the PM's statement in which he offered to appear before the Public Accounts Committee as a masterstroke.
He said that various agencies are probing the 2G scam and if a Joint Parliamentary Committee is set up, it has nothing to probe since all aspects of the investigations have been taken care off.
On the Ayodhya issue, Digvijay said that the matter can still be resolved amicably if clerics from both sides are willing to sit down and arrive at an amicable solution. An out of court settlement in my view be the best solution for the problem.
PM's straight talk on 2G: 'I have nothing to hide'
Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, speaking on the second day of the Congress plenary meet on Monday in New Delhi, said the PM's post should be above suspicion and that he is ready to appear before the Public Accounts Committee in the 2G spectrum scam even though there was no precedent to do so.
Dr Singh said the plenary was being held in the midst of several scams and fingers being pointed at the United Progressive Alliance II government.
"My government is committed to wiping out corruption," he said.
Pointing to the 2G spectrum scam, Dr Singh said he was ready to write to the PAC and tell them that he would be ready to appear before it if need be.
'There is no need for a JPC'
The PM assured that his government will take seriously the five-point agenda laid down by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi to eradicate corruption.
Explaining that there was no need for a Joint Parliamentary Committee, he rubbished the allegations by opposition Bharatiya Janata Party that the UPA was avoiding a JPC probe as 'a cover-up measure.'
He said the moment the Comptroller and Auditor General submitted the report on the 2G scam, the minister (former telecom minister A Raja) concerned stepped down.
"The report has now been sent to the PAC. All aspects of the 2G scam are being probed and the PAC has all the powers of a JPC. The Central Bureau of Investigation is also looking into the issue under the supervision of the Supreme Court," Dr Singh noted.
'We wanted a debate, but opposition didn't allow Parliament to function'
"The government is obligated to act on the PAC report and let the country be rest assured that we will act," he added.
"I have nothing to hide from the public and no person, be it minister or officer, will be spared if found guilty. If there are shortcomings we will act and I seek your support for the same," Dr Singh said.
Dr Singh also took a dig at the opposition saying, "We wanted to discuss these issues in Parliament and were open to a debate, but the same opposition which cannot remove its own corrupt CMs did not allow Parliament to function.
On the other hand the Congress has removed leaders who have allegations of corruption against them when charges were not proven."