Not crossed any boundaries of party line: Digvijay

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Digvijay Singh
New Delhi, Jun 19: A day after he was snubbed by the party high command for criticising TMC leader Mamata Banerjee, veteran Congress leader Digvijay Singh maintained that he had not "crossed any boundaries" of party line.

"Which boundaries have I crossed and on which issues," he asked with regard to an AICC statement yesterday that he was not authorised to speak on behalf of the party.

The Congress, which is still trying to woo Mamata's TMC despite recent bickerings, had issued a statement yesterday distancing itself from Singh's comments that the West Bengal Chief Minister was "immature" and "erratic".

Singh told PTI that he was in agreement with the party's message that he was not its spokesperson.

"So, I have no question on that. Whatever I have said, I have said in my personal capacity," he said.

Asked to rate TMC as an ally, Singh merely said, "Every political party acts according to its own roadmap."

To a question on whether he sees any larger design in Trinamool's opposition to the UPA's Presidential nominees, he said, "Each individual party moves along according to that party's core vote."

When asked about TMC's conduct on the issue of Presidential poll, the AICC leader said, "That is for everyone to see but the fact remains that TMC is still a part of UPA."

Expressing confidence that UPA will be winning the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Singh pointed out that the ruling alliance has not lost any ally so far.

Asked whether there is a fear in Congress that NDA was trying to poach upon its allies, Singh said that every political party has a reason to extend its support base but Congress is confident of forming a government in 2014.

"Why not" was his short response when asked whether UPA-II will remain intact till the next Lok Sabha elections.

Singh said the next general elections will be a contest between national parties--Congress and BJP, though regional parties will also have a role to play.

Asked about factionalism in Congress, Singh said this has to be addressed by the party at its own level.

Singh parried questions on whether Samajwadi Party could join the UPA and whether the ruling alliance would be including more parties by 2014.

"Can't say just now. At the moment, everyone's concern is to see that the President and the Vice President's elections are completed without much difficulty," he said.

On whether he foresees SP and Congress coming closer, Singh merely said that Samajwadi Party has been supporting UPA I and UPA II consistently since 2004.

"Well I do not know" was his refrain when asked could Samajwadi Party join the Union Cabinet before 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Singh suggested that the blame lies with coalition compulsions when pointed out that there was an impression of a policy paralysis in the government and that it was not moving forward with the required urgency towards economic reforms.

"People forget that India has a coalition government and in coalition government, we have to bring all political parties to an agreement on a policy," he said, adding, "Slowly coalition partners are also realising the need for reform".

Singh said the UPA government shall decide the pace at which the reforms have to come and the issues that have to be brought on priority.

"These are the issues that will have to be resolved by the UPA," he acknowledged when asked how will the government move forward when allies like Trinamool Congress have been opposing many economic reforms including FDI in multi-brand retail.

The AICC general secretary also steered clear of questions on whether there is a need to replace "obstructing" allies as demanded by some in the recent CWC meeting. "This is something, which I can't say on my own. It will be the decision of the party," he said.

Regarding a second term to Vice President Hamid Ansari, Singh said that he has the "greatest regard" for Ansari but had "no role" in such a decision, which has to be taken by the party high command.

Asked whether Congress would prefer a consensus on Mukherjee's name for President or would it like to go with a contest to prove that it has the numbers, Singh said that everyone should try for consensus and unanimity for the post of President.

He, at the same time, said that "Congress party has never been scared of a contest".

The AICC general secretary also took Ramdev, saying he would not like to meet the yoga guru, who is meeting political leaders to garner support for his campaign against black money.

"My only question to Ramdev is this before he asks others, he should reply to the ED notices which he has received.

"He should not hide behind a stay order of the High Court and also explain to the people of this country how he has been able to acquire a wealth of Rs 1100 crores in just 10 years," he said.

Asked whether Congress President Sonia Gandhi should meet Ramdev and whether he would you like to meet him, he said, "It is for the Congress President to decide. As far as I am concerned, I would not like to meet him.

"First of all, if Ramdev wants to meet me, he should seek an appointment from my office but, on my own, I am not keen to meet him," he said.

Claiming that Congress party has always been fighting against black money, Singh said, "We have been doing our best after 2004 to unearth black money (and) also to bring (back) money stashed outside.

"Efforts that have been made by the Finance Minister during UPA I and UPA II are much more than whatever NDA did. So our fight against black money cannot be questioned," he said.

Targeting Team Anna and its member Arvind Kejriwal in particular over their attack on Pranab Mukherjee, Singh said, "If you see the service record of Arvind Kejriwal, you will find that he had not followed the business rules as prescribed by Government of India for all IRS officers.

"One who has not followed the prescribed service rules of GoI, then in what moral authority can you question others?" he asked.

He said that members of Team Anna are all "politically ambitious people", who are using the image of Anna Hazare to further their own case.

The AICC leader dismissed reports of rating agencies like Standard and Poor's and Fitch, which downgraded India's credit rating.

"I do not take the rating agencies very seriously. S&P rated both India and Spain economically weak. While there is no economic crisis in India, there is a great economic crisis in Spain. I do not know under what circumstances and on the basis of what statistics S&P has rated both Spain and India in the same category.

"I have not been able to see the report of Fitch but I would say that where were these rating agencies when two of the biggest multinationals in the US collapsed. Did anyone of them predict the economic crisis in Europe? I think one should not see too much into it," Singh said.

PTI

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