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Digvijaya Singh: The controversy king

Last updated on: July 20, 2011 11:58 IST

Digvijaya singh and foot-in-mouth syndrome!

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Rediff Newsdesk
Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh is known for his penchant for making drastic statements. His readiness to wade into tricky situations is seen as a costly addiction as it often leaves the party red faced. Instances of Singh retracting his statements and the party distancing itself from them are innumerable.

Rediff.com takes a look at some of the remarks made by the Congress leader that have raised quite a storm in political circles, the most recent one being on the Mumbai's triple blasts.

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Image: Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh

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'Can't rule out RSS hand in Mumbai blast'

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Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh on Saturday courted yet controversy this time by saying that he did not rule out the involvement of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in Mumbai serial blasts, evoking sharp criticism and condemnation from the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Even as various intelligence agencies are yet to get a breakthrough in the Mumbai blasts, Singh did not rule out the involvement of the Sangh in the bombings.

"I do not rule out anything. If they want evidence about Sangh's involvement in terror activity, I have got evidence. But not in this case," Singh told the media.

Reacting sharply to the Congress leader's comments, the BJP termed them as "disgusting and objectionable" and sought an apology from Congress president Sonia Gandhi for what Singh had said.

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Image: A policeman surveys the aftermath near Opera House in Mumbai
Photographs: Reuters
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'Feel sorry for Kalmadi, he's innocent'

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Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh only recently sympathised with scam-tainted party leaders member of Parliament Suresh Kalmadi and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan saying he felt both of them were innocent.

"We feel sorry for Suresh Kalmadi who is suffering hardships, and also for Ashok Chavan. In my personal opinion, both of them are innocent. But whenever any corruption charges are levelled, Soniaji has to take action," he said.

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Image: Suresh Kalmadi is accused of corruption in handing CWG contracts
Photographs: B Mathur/Reuters
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'Even to teach yoga Ramdev charges Rs 50,000'

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On June 2, the Congress general secretary attacked Baba Ramdev, just before he went on an agitation on the issue of corruption and black money, dubbing him more of a businessman than a sanyasi.

"Even to teach yoga, he charges Rs 50,000 from those who sit in the front seats, Rs 30,000 for the backseat and Rs 1,000 for the last seat. What else is this?" he said.

Two separate complaints were on Wednesday filed in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh against Singh for allegedly calling Ramdev a 'thug.'

As Ramdev went on his fast, the Congress leader described it as a 'five star satyagraha'.

"What kind of satyagraha is this of a Baba who travels in a jet and gets all sorts of five star services? He is holding this fast on an issue he does not even know about," claimed Singh.

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Image: Yoga guru Baba Ramdev

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'PM should be brought under Lokpal's ambit'

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As the debate over bring the prime minister under the purview of the Lokpal Bill continued, the Congress general secretary said that he favoured bringing the prime minister and the higher judiciary under the ambit of Lokpal.

"My view is that the prime minister, judiciary, NGOs and industrial houses should also be brought under the ambit of Lokpal. But there should be a system to ensure that the Lokpal does not misuse its power," Singh told reporters at his hometown Raghogarh on June 12.

The next day Singh retracted from his statement that the prime minister should come within the ambit of Lokpal, as the party distanced itself from his remarks. "My stand is the same as that of the party. Let the Lokpal drafting committee decide. I will go with that decision and the decision of the party," he said, as he got into the damage control mode.

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Image: Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh

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'Rahul can become PM now'

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Rahul Gandhi was now a mature person with sound political instincts and can become the prime minister, Singh had said last month.

"I think it is time that Rahul can become the prime minister," Singh said, talking to mediapersons. "Rahul is now 40 and he has been working for the party for the last seven to eight years," Singh said.

The scion of the Gandhi family had the right qualities, instincts and experience to take up the mantle of prime minister-ship now, Singh said.

Coming under severe criticism for his statement, he clumsily retracted it. He later said Dr Manmohan Singh is a "fairly good prime minister."

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Image: Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi

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'A state burial for Osama ji'

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Welcoming United States action against Osama bin Laden after the Abbottabad operation on May 2, Singh said "Osamaji had been living in Pakistan for so many years, how is it possible that the Pakistani authorities could not locate him."

He had also made an inflammatory remark about bin Laden, saying that he should have been given a proper state burial.

He later dismissed his remark as "media creation". "Absolutely yes, thanks to media. What I can do when the media did not understand my sarcasm regarding Osama found near the Pakistan military academy," he said.

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Image: Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed by the US Navy SEALs in Abbottabad on May 2

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'Been a victim of Chidambaram's intellectual arrogance'

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In a strongly-worded article in a leading newspaper in April, Singh questioned Home Minister P Chidambaram's strategy of treating the Naxal issue as a law and order problem, and called for a rethink of the counter-Maoist strategy.

"In this case (regarding Maoists), I have differed with his (Chidambaram's) strategy that does not take into consideration the people living in the affected areas, who ultimately matter. He is treating it purely as a law and order problem without taking into consideration the issues that affect the tribals", Singh said.

The former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh he went on to say that he knew Chidambaram since 1985 when he and the home minister were both elected to the Parliament. "He is extremely intelligent, articulate, committed and a sincere politician -- but extremely rigid once he makes up his mind. I have been a victim of his intellectual arrogance many times, but we still are good friends," he said.

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Image: Home Minister P Chidambaram

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'Blasts began after Advani's rath yatra'

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After giving 'Sanghi terrorism' tag to saffron outfits, Singh in February alleged that the sequence of blasts in the country began after L K Advani's rath yatra and stopped after arrest of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh activists in terror cases.

"Behind all the blasts in the country are people having fanatic ideology and the sequence of blast cases began after the rath yatra of Advani and since the RSS people have been caught, it has been stopped," he said.

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Image: BJP leader LK Advani

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'Hindutva hardliners may have killed Karkare'

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In December at the launch of the book, RSS is saazish - 26/11?, the Congress general secretary created quite a storm after he said that the slain Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare called him just two hours before the Lashkar attack on Mumbai to say that he feared for his safety from Hindutva hardliners.

Singh, who said he had known the slain cop because his family hailed from Madhya Pradesh, claimed that Karkare told him that he had received anonymous threats from those upset with his investigation into the Malegaon blast.

Karkare's widow Kavita, however, debunked his claim, saying that her husband never talked to Singh. "Such statements will mislead people and benefit Pakistan," she said.

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Image: ATS chief Hemant Karkare was killed during the 26/11attack

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