Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh, who is considered close to the Gandhi family, wants people to respect Sonia Gandhi’s decision to keep her illness, for whose treatment she went to the US recently, a secret. Talking to Zeenews.com’s Swati Chaturvedi on her chat show Kahiye Janab, the controversial former Madhya Pradesh chief minister shared his views on Rahul Gandhi’s leadership qualities, his chance of becoming the prime minister in 2014, his personality and much more.
Here are the excerpts:
Swati: Why is Sonia’s illness being kept a secret?
Digvijay: It’s not about secrecy. It’s a personal thing. You can’t poke into anybody’s personal life. It’s her decision to keep it a secret. In my opinion, we should respect her decision.
Swati: Don’t you think people have the right to know about a prominent public figure?
Digvijay: As I told you, we should respect her private life. If she doesn’t want to make her illness public, we should respect her decision.
Swati: Don’t you think that the Congress disrespected Anna Hazare?
Digvijay: Congress as a party never disrespected Anna Hazare. Rather, we agreed to almost all the demands made by Anna Hazare. I think no other government could have done anything like that to prevent corruption. We showed the nation that we are absolutely serious about curbing corruption.
Swati: But why did the Congress sent him to Tihar Jail and treated him like other criminals?
Digvijay: I want to repeat that we have absolute respect for Anna ji. As I said earlier, the whole episode could have been handled in a better way.
Swati: Since Sonia was out of the country during Anna’s hunger strike, people expected Rahul Gandhi to be a little proactive and fill in the leadership void. Don’t you think that he tackled the issue rather miserably?
Digvijay: Before leaving the country for treatment, Sonia Gandhi made a four-member team which was in-charge of taking all the important decisions. He (Rahul) was just one of them. And when the other three took any such decision, he agreed to it.
Swati: People have this perception that Rahul is still not ready to lead the country. What’s your view on that?
Digvijay: Having worked with him over the last three-four years, I can tell you that he is an extremely reserved person. He has this habit of doing anything after going through a lot of introspection. Rahul had successfully supervised the elections of the Youth Congress and NSUI, which is a great achievement in itself. I have belief that he would do well in the mainstream too.
Swati: What is Congress party’s view on Rahul Gandhi?
Digvijay: You know that former prime minister Indira Gandhi was called Gungi Gudiya. But she proved everybody wrong with her courageous leadership. So the perception about Rahul could also be incorrect. I can assure you that Rahul has all the qualities to become a successful leader.
Swati: What will be Congress’ strategy in 2014 general elections? Will he be projected as the prime ministerial candidate?
Digvijay: It will be decided by the Congress president.
Swati: What’s your personal opinion?
Digvijay: I want him to come to the mainstream Congress affairs and take more responsibilities.
Swati: Don’t you think that issues like price rise and corruption can spoil Congress’ chance of coming back to the power in 2014?
Digvijay: Our government is doing everything possible to control inflation. People understand this. We won Assembly Elections in Assam and West Bengal recently. We performed far better than the BJP. I can tell you that we will win the 2014 general elections and surprise everyone with the results of 2012 UP elections.
Adaptation: Biswajit Jha