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Assembly results not a referendum against Rahul Gandhi: Digvijay Singh

Tuesday, 10 December 2013 - 3:55pm IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: PTI

Assembly election results are "not a referendum" against Rahul Gandhi, says Congress leader Digvijay Singh as he exudes hope that declaration of party's Prime Ministerial candidate before Lok Sabha polls would be an advantage to Congress which got a massive drubbing this time.

The Congress General Secretary, who had been a known detractor of Arvind Kerjrial, also said that the Aam Aadmi Party's victory in Delhi polls is good for electoral politics of democratic India.

"It strengthens the people's belief in democracy, which they were fast losing," he acknowledges.

In an interview to PTI, Singh strongly dismissed suggestions that the drubbing of Congress in Delhi, Rajashtan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh was some sort of a referendum against the leadership of Rahul Gandhi.

"No, there is no referendum because Rahul Gandhi was neither leading the elections nor fighting the elections. Rahul Gandhi's canvas is not Delhi state, his canvas is pan India. The point you raised is quite unrelated.

"These elections were fought on state issues not on national issues. It would be reading too much in these results," the AICC general secretary said.

Singh, who served as Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister for two consecutive terms before BJP came to power in 2003, feels early projection of a chief ministerial candidate could have made the results different for his party this time in "simplifying a very complex subject".

However, he agreed with Jyotiraditya Scindia that there is a need for "major reconstruction" in the party.

Singh, who along with many other party leaders, have been maintaining in the past that it is not in the tradition of the Congress party to declare its Prime Ministerial and Chief Ministerial candidate, now says such a move will benefit Congress.

The trigger is obviously party President Sonia Gandhi's statement on the day of the results that Congress will declare its PM candidate at an opportune time, which was interpreted as the party is all set to name Rahul Gandhi as its PM candidate.

BJP has handed a severe 4-0 drubbing to Congress in Assembly polls, snatching Rajasthan and retaining Madhya Pradesh with landslide wins. It also held on to power in Chhattisgarh and is the single largest party in Delhi where AAP has made a dream debut.

Asked whether it is not a marked shift from the earlier stand of Congress of not declaring its PM or CM candidate before elections, Singh reminds, "No, we had declared it in the 2009 (Lok Sabha polls)."

Incumbent Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was then named as party's PM candidate for 2009 Lok Sabha elections at the time of the release of the party manifesto.

Singh, however, ducked a query as to whether this time also, the Congress' PM candidate will be declared before time and it will be Rahul Gandhi.

"This is what the Congress President has said. Now this is for her to decide," he said but felt that such a move will help Congress.

Asked whether the declaration of Congress' PM candidate before elections will work to the advantage of the party and help it make up for the losses, he said, "Hopefully yes. Because when Congress President has said something, she must have said after due diligence."

Singh also said that assembly elections are different from Parliamentary elections and the loss of Congress in these polls cannot be said to be an indicator that it will lose 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

"If you see 2003 Assembly elections, Congress lost in three out of four seats and yet defeated BJP in 2004 Parliamentary elections. Therefore, in the state and national elections, the issues are quite different.

To a specific question whether there is an anti-Congress wave in the country, he said, "Well this is something to be seen, I can’t really say just now."

While Singh was evasive when asked whether there is anti-Congress wave in the country, he fiercely opposed the contention that a Narendra Modi wave was visible through the results in the states.

"In these states BJP's campaign was personality oriented and not party oriented. In Chhattisgarh, it was Raman Singh centric, in Madhya Pradesh Shivraj Singh Chouhan centric and in Rajasthan it Vijayraje Scindia, in Delhi Harshvardhan centric. If they have done well, why don’t you give them credit. Credit should be given to them," Singh said.


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