Outspoken leaders land Cong in trouble

The Congress appears to be facing problems from its senior leaders who speak in different voices despite Rahul Gandhi’s advice to put up a united front.

The fresh troublemakers for the Congress are Raj Babbar and Rasheed Masood, who have kicked up a controversy over their remarks on having full meals at Rs 12 in Mumbai and Rs 5 in Delhi respectively.

AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh, known for his regular deviations from the party line, was caught on the wrong foot again when he referred to party MP Meenakshi Natarajan in an “inappropriate manner” at a public function in Madhya Pradesh.

The remarks of Babbar and Masood saw television reporters making rounds of eateries in Mumbai and Delhi to check the claims made by Babbar.

Babbar expressed regret for his remarks prompting Congress spokesperson Renuka Chowdhury to say that the matter be allowed to rest. “He (Babbar) has issued a categoric statement expressing regret. So we should leave the matter there,” she said at a party briefing.

“We do not agree with the Rs 12 and Rs 5 statements of some leaders,” AICC general secretary Ajay Maken posted on Twitter.

Renuka Chowdhary on Friday had a tough time defending Singh’s remarks on Natarajan and sought refuge by citing her inability to understand the Hindi slang used by the party general secretary.

Singh had also taken a divergent stand on the Batla House encounter by questioning its authenticity.

After a Delhi court held on Thursday that the encounter was genuine, the Congress chose to downplay Singh’s comments, contending that the same could have been made in a “surcharged atmosphere” and should not be given credence now.

Union Minister Beni Prasad Verma had also landed the party in trouble with his barbs at friend-turned-foe and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav. Verma had remarked that Yadav was not even fit to “sweep the prime minister’s residence, leave alone occupying the top post.”

At a meeting of Congress leaders earlier this week, party vice-president Rahul Gandhi had advised party leaders to remain united and speak in one voice.

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