This Article is From Apr 03, 2013

Despite Congress rebuff, Digvijaya Singh stands by comments on Sonia Gandhi-PM model

New Delhi: Congress leader Digvijaya Singh today said that he has not retracted his statement that having two power centres within the party may have proved to be detrimental.

Mr Singh's assessment reportedly upset party president Sonia Gandhi.  On Tuesday, the Congress said that the equation between Mrs Gandhi as head of the party and Dr Manmohan Singh as head of the government is unique and a model that could serve the Congress well in the future.

Those remarks, made by Congress spokesperson Janardan Dwivedi, were seen as a public snub to Mr Singh.  "I'm a disciplined soldier of the Congress party," he said.  "Whatever is the official line, I abide by it. Whatever I have said is on record. I have never retracted from my statement."

In 2004,  Mrs Gandhi rejected the chance to be prime minister, picking Dr Manmohan Singh for the country's top job.   The opposition has repeatedly accused her of exercising power without accountability, a charge her party has stridently rejected.

But in the new debate, many will see a manifestation of the Congress' dilemma.   While his party is clamouring for Mrs Gandhi's son, Rahul, to be named its prime ministerial candidate, he has said that his priority is reorganising the Congress. Last month, Mr Gandhi told Congress MPs, " "Asking me whether you want to be PM is a wrong question."

In the national election, scheduled for next year,  the Congress hopes to be elected for a third consecutive term.  Mr Gandhi has refused to comment on whether he will  accept the Prime Minister's office should the party return to power.

Last week, the Prime Minister did not refute suggestions that he is open to a third term in office.  He said the decision would be taken at a later point.  "These are hypothetical questions, we will cross that bridge when we reach there," Dr Singh said.