Harish Khare, media advisor to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, called the Congress a "status quoist party which does not believe in conviction", a remark which was instantly dismissed by party general secretary Digvijay Singh.
"The Congress by nature is entirely a status quoist, centrist party. It does not believe in conviction. The only conviction it has is in how to win elections," Khare said in a panel discussion after release of a book in New Delhi.
His remarks came at the release of "Developmental State and the dalit question in Madhya Pradesh: Congress response", written by Sudha Pai, Professor of Political Science at the JNU.
The book argues that the Madhya Pradesh government headed by Digvijay Singh went in for a knee-jerk reaction by allotting land to the landless without doing proper homework, it was heavily dependent on bureaucracy for implementation and the scheme did not yield the desired results on the ground or politically.
Khare, a political anaylst of repute, besides referred to the KHAM (Kshatriya, Harijan, Adivasi and Muslim) coalition of the Congress in Gujarat saying such experiments do not yield lasting political benefits .
He also referred to the allotment of land to the landless SCs and STs by the Digvijay Singh government in Madhya Pradesh, saying he lost the 2003 elections and the party has not returned to power since then.
Soon after Khare made the statement, Singh, who was also a panelist in the discussion, said, "I do not agree that Congress is a party of status quoists". He referred to steps like the abolition of zamindari and privy purses to drive home the point that this was not the case.
The AICC general secretary, however, admitted that the party's defeat in the cowbelt was due to its "inability to keep pace with the social changes" taking place there. He said what he did in Madhya Pradesh (alottment of seven lakh acres of government land to landless SCs and STs) was because of politics of conviction as poverty, malnutrition and deprivation was the maximum among these sections. Singh also gave reasons why the Congress lost the 2003 Assembly elections in MP.
Speaking on this policy of Singh, Khare said unless there is a political structure in place to deal with conflict, all good intentions will come to a nought. He also said that Digvijay Singh was caught in factionalism in MP with demands being made by Arjun Singh.
Noting that there was a "marked decline of the collective self confidence" of the political class, Khare said today the focus was only to win elections.