"When Ashok Gehlot...": Digvijaya Singh On Why He Decided To Contest

"When the field is clear, I thought why not?" Digvijaya Singh told NDTV in an exclusive interview.

"When the field is clear, I thought why not?" Digvijaya Singh told NDTV.

New Delhi:

Digvijaya Singh, senior Congressman who is entering the party's presidential race, today indicated that his move was a spur-of-the-moment decision, made after it became clear that Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot's candidature got scuttled by the rebellion of his loyalist MLAs.  If elected, he would carry out the party's decisions, as happens in a democratic system, Mr Singh said. A good leader is "not a dictator" but the "first among equals", he pointed out.  

"When the field is clear, I thought why not?" he told NDTV in an exclusive interview.

Asked what he meant by a "clear field" he said, "Initially, there were talks about the party deciding on a name. So it was different. Now it is another scenario".

Mr Gehlot, a loyalist of the Gandhi family, was seen as the "official" candidate.

But the former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh refused to speak about the situation in Rajasthan, a state headed by his friend of four decades.

Mr Singh could be one of the three corners of what might turn out a triangular contest. Congress sources told NDTV that the party high command is looking for a preferred candidate for the party's top post. There is a possibility that the candidate would be Mukul Wasnik, a staunch Gandhi family loyalist rewarded with a Rajya Sabha seat earlier this year.

A section in the party has reservations about Mr Singh, despite his credentials as a Gandhi family loyalist. Sources said the 75-year-old is seen as having "too much political baggage".

Mr Singh agreed that he was not the "official" candidate. "If the Gandhis say there is no 'authorised' candidate, how can I be one? I am not the 'official' or 'authorised' candidate. I'm contesting on the dictates of my conscience. I'll ask everyone, if they think I'm deserving then good," he said.

Asked if his work would be guided by his conscience or the Gandhi family, Digvijaya Singh said, "I believe in the democratic system. Whatever the party decides, I'll go with that".

"A leader is just the first among equals. They are not dictators. They are answerable. For example, Sonia Gandhi consults everyone. Only after that she takes a decision. This is the system of leadership in any democratic party," he added.

On whether he would withdraw nomination once an "official" candidate enters the race, Mr Singh indicated that he is on a wait and watch mode. "Political situation can change. We will see," he said.