New Delhi: Congress leader Digvijay Singh on Sunday said that nobody was stopping any of its leaders, including P Chidambaram, from fighting party elections for becoming its chief, remarks which have renewed the controversy surrounding the issue.
Promptly latching on to the remarks, BJP asked whether there were questions about the "efficacy of Rahul Gandhi's leadership" within Congress.
"Chidambaram and any non-Gandhi has complete freedom to fight elections for (the post of) party president. Nobody is stopping them... No one has stopped any non-Gandhi from contesting the AICC presidential election.
"Chidambaram is free to contest... Gandhi family has not stopped any non-Gandhi from contesting elections," Singh said.
The remarks came days after the former Finance Minister said in an interview that a person other than a member of the Gandhi family could become the president of Congress.
"I think so... Someday yes," Chidambaram had said when asked in an interview by a news channel if a non-Gandhi could become the Congress president. Asked about a timeline for the same, he had, however, quickly added, "I do not know."
Chidambaram had also said that the top Congress leadership, including party chief Sonia Gandhi and vice- president Rahul, should speak more often and put in place a timetable that would enable the party to play the role of an effective opposition.
The remarks had baffled many leaders within Congress, who felt it amounted to fuelling speculation at a time when the party was yet to recover from its Lok Sabha poll debacle and the loss in Assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana.
The party had later also asked its members to speak directly to its leadership and not give suggestions through the media.
With Singh's remarks bringing the issue back in focus, BJP leader Nalin Kohli said that the Congress needs to look at whether it would like to continue being "rooted in a single family".
"It is for them to decide whether they want the leadership of the party to be rooted only in a single family... Or expand it. The real issue is what the Congress party sees itself in the democratic set-up.
"It raises questions whether there is a debate within Congress about the efficacy of the leadership of Rahul Gandhi," Kohli said, adding that after recent electoral results, it was for Congress leaders to decide whom they want to lead their party.
"No concern of BJP (as to) who leads the Congress party. It is completely the prerogative of the Congress," he said.