Last Updated: January 24, 2023, 18:07 IST
A joke within the Congress is that “Digvijaya Singh is like liquid oxygen, which Ajit referred to. Liquid won’t let you live, oxygen won’t let you die”.
Veteran, astute Congress leader Singh is someone who the Congress can just not do without. He brings shrewdness on the table at a time when the party needs it to counter the Bharatiya Janata Party and powerful regional parties.
The views expressed by senior leader Digvijaya Singh are his own and do not reflect the position of Congress. Surgical strikes were carried out before 2014 by UPA government. Congress has supported & will continue to support all military actions that are in the national interest.— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) January 23, 2023
Singh is known for his energy and aggression and ground work. The over three-month-long Narmada Yatra impressed the Gandhis at a time when many of his detractors pushed the narrative that his chips were down. So it came as no surprise when Singh was made in-charge of the Bharat Jodo Yatra, as the party felt his experience with the Narmada Yatra would help.
But then his latest comments have failed to impress the party. In fact, in an unusually strong rebuke, Rahul Gandhi called Singh’s comment ridiculous.
In an internal post-mortem report just after the 2019 results poured in, many within the Congress openly said that asking for proof of surgical strike was suicidal and harmed the party beyond repair. Learning a lesson, the party has been reticent on the issue, and in fact even during the yatra, Rahul Gandhi has been making it a point to meet retired Army people and pushed for reinstatement of the Old Pension Scheme in Himachal Pradesh. But Singh’s comment has reignited the narrative which has helped the BJP.
Digvijay Singh ji’s statement is his personal statement – I completely disagree with him. We respect the army and we do not want any proof of any work done by the army. Proud of the army.
— Congress (@INCIndia) January 24, 2023
NOT THE FIRST TIME
It is not the first time that Singh’s comments have harmed the Congress. From his stand on the Batla House encounter, his comment that only over 40 women were impressed by PM and not jeans-clad girls, that some saffron-clad men committed rape, questioning the Yakub Memon hanging, Singh may be controversy’s favourite child, but someone his party has not been able to ignore.
The party’s stand on the BBC documentary on PM Modi has also reached a roadblock. In an embarrassing situation, just moments after Rahul Gandhi supported the BBC documentary saying truth has a way of coming out, AK Antony’s son Anil said the party was making a mistake.
In private, many feel that supporting the BBC film is being seen as raking up the 2002 Gujarat riots issue. When Sonia Gandhi had referred to Modi as “maut ka saudagar” in her speech, it had come back to harm the Congress so much that till today, in Gujarat, the Congress has not been able to come back to power.
The late Ahmed Patel had accepted in private that it was comment which could have been avoided. Now, with the Congress insisting on raking up the 2002 riots issue, it is yet another narrative which could hurt the party. And this helps the BJP.
The twin issues of proof of surgical strikes and 2002 Gujarat riots are a dead-end for the Congress. But each time they are raised, the BJP has a reason to smile and attack the Congress.
Past, as they say, has a nasty way of coming up.
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