Arjun vows to remain loyal to Gandhis

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{image-arjun singh_11052008.jpg}New Delhi, May 11: After the snub by UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi yesterday, Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh today sought to mend fences with the Congress leadership by swearing loyalty to Nehru-Gandhi dynasty till death and expressed pain at the controversies created by the recent book on him.

''I would like to put it on record that when I met Pt Jawaharlal Nehruji in March 1960, I pledged my total loyalty to him and his family. This was the commitment which is an article of faith with me. For the past 48 years of my life, I have scrupulously adhered to it. I shall also do everything to maintain the loyalty and commitment to the remaining members of the family till I live,'' he said in a statement released to the media today.

Referring to the controversy raised by the book published by Dr K L Nandan and presented to President Pratibha Patil on May 9, the HRD Minister expressed pain at the issues raised and described these as ''needless and irrelevant.'' He said he did not wish to join issue with anyone on this matter and respected the views of all his colleagues who had commented on it. He also denied that the book was his autobiography and said it was in fact a compilation of articles written by different people about him from time-to-time.

All these had articles had already been published and the compilation presented to him on April 27, 2005, he said, disclosing that he was still writing his autobiography which would be published on a future date.

''This is now a closed chapter as far as I am concerned,'' Mr Singh said.

The Human Resource Development Minister is in the eye of a storm following his remarks on loyalty to the Nehru-Gandhi family.

In the book, 'Mohin Kahan Vishram (No Rest For Me),' Mr Singh was quoted as saying that the decision-making process in the Congress had got ''disintegrated'' unlike in the past when there was more scope to be free and involved.

Mr Singh had expressed anguish over the deviation from the established practice of decision-making in the party, saying it is providing an opportunity to some sections to flout the High Command's directives. The book, based on the life and times of Mr Singh, encompasses his views on a wide spectrum of issues, including politics, sex education and films.

About the directives and orders of the High Commands in various political parties, he had said the Congress had always allowed freedom to its leaders to contribute in decision-making before a final outcome was reached.

''But this process has now come under stress,'' he lamented, and said he followed any stand the party took.

Mr Singh had said that since the inputs of various leaders were not considered while taking a decision, several of them did not feel associated with the postures the party took.

Earlier also, Mr Singh had embarassed the Party on the issues of Ram Setu and advocated Rahul Gandhi as the next Prime Minister. The remarks drew a series of reactions from the AICC.

Following the comments, the Congress said there was no lack of inner party democracy in it and there was no basis in the allegation to the contrary made by Mr Singh in his latest book.

AICC Spokesman Shakeel Ahmed told mediapersons that Congress President Sonia Gandhi had been discussing all issues with the partners of the ruling UPA coalition and also within the party.

''She has always been fair and transparent.'' He denied Mr Singh's allegation that the process of intra-Party consultations had fallen into disarray.

In the book, Mr Singh said ''when people do not have the feeling that they have contributed to the decision making process, they have no hassles in defying it.'' The matter reached a head yesterday when Ms Sonia Gandhi ignored the HRD minister at a convocation of the Jamia Hamdard University.

The UPA Chairperson credited Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for his ''personal imprint'' on expanding the educational infrastructure in the country and the Centre's special focus on minority districts, without any mention of the HRD Minister.

''The Prime Minister put a personal imprint on the expansion of educational infrastructure,'' Ms Gandhi said, giving details on the steps proposed.

Mr Singh had earlier also put the Congress leadership in a tight spot by suggesting that Rahul Gandhi be made the next Prime Minister. The AICC, while slamming his stand, had maintained that the party had no place for sycophancy and had appreciated the contribution of Dr Manmohan Singh.

On Ram Setu, the Congress veteran had said it was a matter of faith and there was no justification for creating any controversy on Lord Ram.

''This is a matter of our faith. There is no need to consider what others have to think on it,'' he said.

On the original affidavit submitted before the Supreme Court on Ram Setu, which had put the Centre in a spot, Mr Singh had said the ''carelessness of officials'' should be held reponsible for it.

''It should have sufficed to say on the Ram Setu that there is no historical evidence for it. Instead, it was said it does not have any history.''


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