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The Vishwajit Prithvijit Singh Chat

Vishwajit Prithvijit Singh, the Congress party's top spin doctor and the man given some credit for Sonia Gandhi's current success, loyally stood by the Gandhi clan he represents. If the media depicted Sonia as a traditional Indian woman, he said, it was because they were forced to.

Mr Vishwajit Prithvijit Singh (Wed Feb 11 1998 8:1 IST)
Hello, everybody, its good to be here.

Karuna Sahay (Wed Feb 11 1998 6:8 IST)
Dear Singh: Isn't it pathetic that the Congress is now banking only on Sonia to save its face in these elections? Does it mean that the Congress party ceases to exist in the absence of the Nehru-Gandhi family?

Mr Vishwajit Prithvijit Singh (Wed Feb 11 1998 8:9 IST)
Karuna Sahay: The Gandhi-Nehru family has a special place in the politics of India. And every member of the Gandhi-Nehru family who has become prominent in politics has become so only after gaining the affection of the people.

If Pandit Nehru was the darling of the masses, it was only because he had shown independent India its place in the world. And his building of what he called the temples of modern India, the dams, the irrigation projects, the mills, were the foundation of the progress we have today. Similarly, Shrimati Indira Gandhi gained the love and affection of the people in full measure after the introduction of the anti-poverty programmes, the successful liberation of Bangladesh and the great success of the Green Revolution.

Rajiv Gandhi also caught the affection of the people when he showed them his dreams for an India confident and strong when entering the 21st century.

Shrimati Sonia Gandhi has shown by her behaviour and actions after the death of her husband that she is living her life as a traditional Indian woman. Her public stance of caring for the underprivileged and the weak through the various programmes of the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation are only a reflection of her inner self. It is this, coupled with her staying above the petty politics of India for the last seven years, that have won her the affection of the people.

She has come to the aid of the Congress because she feels that India is in danger. Secularism is in danger. It is only the Congress that can battle against it and she has entered to strengthen the Congress.

Karl Louis (Wed Feb 11 1998 7:46 IST)
Good evening Mr Singh, Sir I CONGRATULATE you on a great job you have done in creating the PUBLIC Soniaji:-) Can you please tell us the whole workings of this image creating:-)

Mr Vishwajit Prithvijit Singh (Wed Feb 11 1998 8:11 IST)
Karl: I have had nothing to do with creating any image for Shrimati Sonia Gandhi. The image that she is projecting is of a true self. Believe me, there is no media manipulation. In actual fact, the media has been consistently reporting against her and it is only now that, reluctantly it is conceding the effect that she is having on these elections.

Aakriti (Wed Feb 11 1998 8:6 IST)
Mr.Singh....isn't it dangerous in a democratic system to have a person like Sonia Gandhi who enjoys so much of power without a trace of accountability....she hasn't addresses a single press conference in her entire life yet...???

Mr Vishwajit Prithvijit Singh (Wed Feb 11 1998 8:13 IST)
Aakriti: If addressing press conferences was a measure of accountability, then every fringe element seeking publicity would be considered fully accountable.

In a true democracy, it is the privilege of the press to write what they like. True accountability lies only with the people. It is the voters who decide who is accountable and who is not. In any case, Shrimati Sonia Gandhi is far too busy campaigning at the moment holding seven to eight major public meetings every day, which leaves her no time at all to meet the press.

At the appropriate time I am sure that she will meet the press.

Shyam Sinha (Wed Feb 11 1998 7:41 IST)
Mr Singh: Are you the speech writer of Sonia Gandhi?

Mr Vishwajit Prithvijit Singh (Wed Feb 11 1998 8:15 IST)
Shyam Sinha: Much as I wish I were, I am not the speech writer of Shrimati Sonia Gandhi. I believe she gets inputs from all over, including letters which even ordinary people write to her. the final draft of her speeches is written only by her.

Gorakh (Wed Feb 11 1998 7:55 IST)
Hi Mr Singh are you content being just a backroom boy? Isn't politics more about thrust and parry, heat and dust?

Mr Vishwajit Prithvijit Singh (Wed Feb 11 1998 8:17 IST)
Gorakh: I have been in Parliament in the Upper House for two terms, a total of 12 years, and I hope I did leave a mark on the debates in the House. In any case, I rather enjoy the planning process in which various prospective plans are made with options for all contingencies.

It is a source of great satisfaction when one sees events unfolding according to one's predictions and the various options coming into play as envisaged. Believe you me, I find it far more thrilling than what you call the thrust and parry of politics.

Parvati Mehra (Wed Feb 11 1998 8:4 IST)
Hello Sir, as one of the persons fashioning the Sonia campaign, are you happy with the response she has evoked?

Mr Vishwajit Prithvijit Singh (Wed Feb 11 1998 8:20 IST)
Parvati Mehra: As I said I am one of the persons fashioning the campaigning of Shrimati Sonia Gandhi but I am extremely pleased with the response that she is getting.

Aakriti (Wed Feb 11 1998 8:16 IST)
Mr.PVS.....What is the guarantee that chatukaars (a decent word in English would be the "Coterie") around her do not exploit a Congress win (& Sonia as PM) for pecuniary gains as has happened in case of political novices assuming power (it happened with Rajiv after '84...although he matured somewhat after the '89 debacle)...

Bofors is the creation of such "intermediaries" bt'n the person in power and the common man....these guys pretend to be the having the approval of the PM...which sometimes they don't have..

Mr Vishwajit Prithvijit Singh (Wed Feb 11 1998 8:26 IST)
Aakriti: There is not a single head of state in the world who does not have some form of coterie around him or her. In the final analysis, people tend to trust family, close friends and old companions.

There are various eye-witness accounts now published in memoirs about the family of an American president sitting in on cabinet meetings, about the wife of a recent American president attending cabinet meetings and giving orders, about the family of a British prime minister attending cabinet meetings and giving orders... The list goes on. The true measure of leadership is the progress made by the nation under him or her. By that measure both Mrs Gandhi and Shri Rajiv Gandhi come out with flying colours.

narsimha Rao (Wed Feb 11 1998 8:17 IST)
MR Singh, What are the qualifications of Sonia Gandhi ?? Only that she belongs to a family, who you people worship. Even after 50 years of Independence you Congressmen are acting as SLAVES.

narsimha Rao (Wed Feb 11 1998 8:21 IST)
Hey VPS, people are coming to see her. Don't you remember Imran Khan and Laxmi Parvathi..

Mr Vishwajit Prithvijit Singh (Wed Feb 11 1998 8:27 IST)
Rao: Shrimati Sonia Gandhi represents the traditions of the Nehru Gandhi family and the 113-year old Congress party. She can in no way be compared to Imran Khan or Shrimat Lakshmi Parvati.

Prashant (Wed Feb 11 1998 8:15 IST)
Mr Singh, how much of your success within the party do you owe to your proximity to the Gandhis?

Mr Vishwajit Prithvijit Singh (Wed Feb 11 1998 8:29 IST)
Prashant: For many years the people who did not know my work because I was a backroom person thought that I owed my position solely because of the Nehru Gandhi family. While it is true that I owe it to the Nehru Gandhi family, I also feel that the many years of hard work that I have put in also qualify for something.

Aakriti (Wed Feb 11 1998 8:22 IST)
Media in India is trying to project SoniaG as the epitome of Indian Culture....But tell me honestly....Would an Indian widow ever come out in public and say things like..... My husband was everything for me (nothing new 'bt India that's a norm)... And doesn't asking for votes on sentimental issues amount to trading your late husband for some votes or at the most, for power? How Indian is this?

Mr Vishwajit Prithvijit Singh (Wed Feb 11 1998 8:33 IST)
Aakriti: In actual fact, the media in India has got no choice but to project Mrs Gandhi as the true traditional Indian woman because she has shown with her every action that she is a traditional Indian woman.

Mrs Gandhi is campaigning for the Congress party solely to give strength to the ideals of her late husband and to give strength to the political party headed by her late husband. In this, she is part of a long tradition of Indian women who have come out into the public in defence of their late husbands and their ideals. Indian history is full of such women. Shrimati Sonia Gandhi is one of them.

princess (Wed Feb 11 1998 8:32 IST)
and mr vps, have you ever been confused with the other, if i may add far greater vps?

Mr Vishwajit Prithvijit Singh (Wed Feb 11 1998 8:35 IST)
princess: I have known the other VPS for a very long time and have earlier been his admirer and also close associate. I still remember that he was always known as V N P Singh and it was only sometime in the mid-80s that he started calling himself V P Singh.

This matter was raised in Parliament and I mentioned that I even had letters from Shri V P Singh written to me when he was chief minister of Uttar Pradesh addressed to me as V P Singh with his name being given as Vishwanath Pratap Singh.

Sultan Singh (Wed Feb 11 1998 8:35 IST)
Why don't you guys go for Vajpayee and his Hinduja connection? I thought spin doctors were forceful chaps, guys like James Carville, who snarled their way through crisis and launched one offensive after another.

Mr Vishwajit Prithvijit Singh (Wed Feb 11 1998 8:40 IST)
Sultan Singh: You are quite right. There is a very strong Vajpayee-Hinduja connection. In fact Atal Behari Vajpayee had written a letter to prime minister Narasimha Rao seeking favours for the Hindujas. I believe this letter has become a matter of much debate in the think tanks of the BJP. I am given to understand that the BJP spin doctors are trying to work out a strategy for dealing with this letter bomb.

Jain (Wed Feb 11 1998 8:39 IST)
Sir have you fought elections so far? why?

Mr Vishwajit Prithvijit Singh (Wed Feb 11 1998 8:42 IST)
Jain: My constituency was represented by a general secretary of the party for many years and was not vacant. Though I have applied to contest both in 1996 and 1998, the party insists that my services are required in Delhi rather than in the field and I have not been allowed to contest.

I sincerely hope that in the next elections I will be allowed to contest for the Lok Sabha from my constituency.

Madhuri Pandey (Wed Feb 11 1998 8:42 IST)
Mr Singh considering that you are the technical wizard for the party, what is your background? Give us an indepth answer sir:-)

Mr Vishwajit Prithvijit Singh (Wed Feb 11 1998 8:46 IST)
Madhury Pandey: I have no qualifications whatsoever. This has given me a certain advantage. I have become a multi-disciplinary person in so far as I like to learn about at least one new subject or area of knowledge every year. I am curious by nature and my wife, my family and my friends say that I am still like a child. I suppose that gives me the advantage of having the curiosity to keep seeking and learning new things all the time. I can only that I am the eternal student who has no qualifications what so ever.

Haldighati (Wed Feb 11 1998 8:47 IST)
Sir do you get paid for what you do for the congress party? how do you make your money?

Mr Vishwajit Prithvijit Singh (Wed Feb 11 1998 8:49 IST)
Haldighati: I do not take any payment for what I do for the party. I live on income from a farm as well as some rent. I think I pay my taxes regularly and I am entitled to work free for the party if I wish to.

princess (Wed Feb 11 1998 8:45 IST)
what is your own opinion of the recent congress reverses? was it only on account of a lack of charisma? and, if sonia's charisma leads the party's resurgence, what about content? has it ever crossed your (i mean the think-tank's) mind?

Mr Vishwajit Prithvijit Singh (Wed Feb 11 1998 8:54 IST)
princess: The reverses that the Congress suffered in the recent past in 1996 are clearly attributable firstly to the demolition of the Babri Masjid which resulted in the alienation of a large section of the population, and also the split in the Congress party when the Tiwari Congress was formed, which resulted in a vitiated atmosphere.

If you take even the drastic reverses of '96 and put the Congress Tiwari and the Madhavrao Scindia Congress together, the Congress ended up winning 163 seats even in 1996. This same calculation has been taken by India Today in their latest vote base projections. Today the atmosphere is vastly different and the party is united. Added to this is the charisma of a campaigner like Mrs Sonia Gandhi.

Electionman (Wed Feb 11 1998 8:53 IST)
Hi Mr Singh what is your opinion of the number of seats the three formations -- bjp, congress and uf -- will get in these elections? numbers please.

Mr Vishwajit Prithvijit Singh (Wed Feb 11 1998 8:56 IST)
Electionman: Congress 273, BJP 142, BJP allies 30, UF 75.

Kapurtala (Wed Feb 11 1998 8:55 IST)
People say the BJP has planned a stinker that will dismantle the Congress campaign just before Polling Day. How do you plan to control the damage?

Mr Vishwajit Prithvijit Singh (Wed Feb 11 1998 8:57 IST)
Kapurtala: The BJP is a past master as such tactics. The very fact that you are asking this question shows that the public is aware of this aspect of the BJP. Believe you me, the people will not be fooled.

Mr Vishwajit Prithvijit Singh (Wed Feb 11 1998 8:58 IST)
Thank you all very much. It was wonderful to talk to you. I hope I managed to answer most of your questions. You will have to get Rediff On The NeT to call me again if I have left out anything.

Questions Vishwajit Prithvijit Singh didn't answer