Congress asks bigmouth Digvijay to shut up

Jun 19, 2012, 07:10 IST | Surender Sharma

Attack on Didi proves costly for Congress general secretary; party sends out letters to media persons stating that Singh is not authorised to speak to journalists on behalf of the organisation

King of controversies and senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh got a major jolt yesterday, as the party bunged him from doing what he does best. In a letter sent to media persons covering the All India Congress Committee, the party stated that its national general secretary is not authorised to speak to journalists.

Highs and lows: Digvijay Singh is in-charge of party affairs in UP, where the Congress got a drubbing in assembly polls. He is also the in-charge of Assam, where the party came to power for a third time. File pics

“Shri Digvijay Singh is not officially authorised to speak on behalf of the party,” the letter read. It’s the first time that a Congress leader who is holding such a high position in the party has been affronted publicly.

It is said that the decision came after Singh gave a series of interviews to television channels wherein he called West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC Chief Mamata Banerjee “immature” and “erratic”.

Last evening, during the routine party briefing, Congress Spokesperson Manish Tewari said, “The message sent out by the Congress Media Cell is approved from the top (read Sonia Gandhi),” he said signifying that the letter on Singh was sent with consent of senior party leaders.

When quizzed about the need of sending a letter to the media, and that too about a leader of such a stature in the party, Tewari replied, “Whatever we had to say has been conveyed. I don’t think it’s necessary to add anything to it.”

Balancing act
Except for a statement made by Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni, wherein she had termed Mamata’s act of revealing names discussed with Sonia Gandhi as “unethical”, Congress has been maintaining silence on the TMC chief. The party is reportedly playing safe and doesn’t want to worsen its relationship with Mamata. The party has also been sending out feelers to TMC chief to win her back.
“All we want is votes for our presidential candidate. There’s no need to humiliate anybody. Anybody who forms the electoral college should be won over to get maximum votes,” said a senior Congress leader.

Singh had dubbed Mamata as “immature” and “erratic” and suggested that there is a “limit” to the patience. He had also suggested that beyond a point the Congress would not mollify Mamata.  Singh had even said that it was “very embarrassing” for party president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that Mamata not only rejected the names of both UPA nominees for president’s post, but also joined hands with Samajwadi Party and announced three more names, including that of the prime minister. This is not the first time that the Congress Party has distanced from or disapproved remarks made by Singh, including that on Batla House encounter.

Ready to leave UPA if unwanted: TMC
The TMC yesterday described as “untrue” reports that its central government ministers have handed over their resignation letters to party chief Mamata Banerjee, but said they were prepared to leave the UPA if they were unwanted. “Some television channels are saying that the TMC ministers in the central government have handed over their resignation to Mamata Banerjee. There is no truth in this. We don’t want to cause the fall of the UPA government. We have not taken any such decision,” said TMC parliamentary party leader Sudip Bandopadhyay. However, he said all ministers were “mentally” ready to put in their papers if the situation went to that extent. “If the (UPA) government feels we are staying in the government forcibly, our ministers will not be found wanting in taking the proper decision.” 

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