Home > News > Report
'Arjun Singh's outburst a bid to gain clout'
Shahid K Abbas in New Delhi |
May 24, 2003 05:42 IST
Veteran Congress leader Arjun Singh's recent outburst against 'groupism' in the party is seen by a section of the leadership as an attempt to influence the ticket distribution for assembly elections scheduled later this year.
Singh, while lamenting the proliferation of groups within the party, also favoured tying up with like-minded parties. While justifying the need to join hands with other parties, Singh reportedly said that Sonia Gandhi 'was no Indira Gandhi'.
"Perhaps, he (Arjun Singh) wanted to hit the headlines on the election eve in order to restore his clout so as to have a better say in the ticket distribution for the assembly elections, particularly in Madhya Pradesh, his home state," a senior Congress leader and a Working Committee member told rediff.com.
Though officially the party dismissed Singh's outburst as his 'personal' opinion, there are many who agree with his observation that groupism is rampant.
Chief spokesman S Jaipal Reddy, while feigning ignorance about the presence of groups within the party, refrained from making any comments when asked if Singh's utterances were an attack on the party leadership.
But he admitted that the high command had 'taken note' of Singh's comments.
Singh had, almost eight years ago, raised the banner of revolt against the economic reforms followed by the erstwhile P V Narasimha Rao government. Then he had pressed for a 'human face' to the reforms process.
This time around Singh quoted Rajiv Gandhi's candid 1985 speech in which the former prime minister admitted that some of his party leaders were power brokers.
"Arjun Singh's human face terminology caught the imagination of the people. Now once again his theory for a coalition would give momentum to the concept of a Second Front led by the Congress to push aside the BJP-NDA coalition," a senior All India Congress Committee member said.
Contrary to this argument, Singh's critics within the party said the veteran leader was feeling isolated. They recall the CWC meeting before the Gujarat election, when his suggestion for an alliance found no buyers. His criticism of the 'soft Hindutva' plank advocated by the Congress was also shot down.
His latest outburst, according to his critics, is due to the recent restructuring of the AICC, which saw his followers being shunted out. His staunch loyalist Jagmeet Singh Brar had to lose the charge of Gujarat and Chhattisgarh. Brar is currently a secretary without any charge.
Brar, who was the whip of the Congress Parliamentary Party, had to also lose his parliamentary post after he defied, in the recently concluded budget session, the party line of continued boycott of Defence Minister George Fernandes.