'Shivraj & Modi popularity on decline; Cong will win MP,' says Digvijay Singh

I am not in CM race; I never sulked: Digvijay Singh

Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister (CM) Digvijay Singh, known for his controversial remarks has been maintaining a low profile for quite some time. As he is back in action as party’s chief troubleshooter as the state goes to polls,  Deccan Herald catches up with him in Bhopal for a freewheeling chat during which Singh emphatically says he is “not sulking” and “not in the race” for the post of the CM.  Singh also says he is principally against the practice of declaring CM candidate before polls and welcomes the shift of power in Congress in young hands.
Q- Congress is going to polls in Madhya Pradesh without a popular face. A ‘baraat (wedding procession) without a dulha (groom)’ is what the BJP is saying? Why not project a face when there is no dearth of it.
Ans- It is not correct. Why you don’t question BJP when they did not project a  face in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Maharashtra and even Jharkhand. It does not make much difference. As far as I am concerned I am principally against this practice of declaring CM face or CM candidate because it robs the newly elected MLAs of their opportunity to choose their leader. There is no need to declare CM face.
Q- You had been a vocal secular voice of Congress party. But of late you choose no to speak on those issues. Why are you not speaking now? Some say you are sulking.
 Ans- I am regularly speaking. I am doing press conferences everywhere. It's not correct that I am not speaking. No, I am not sulking. I have never sulked.
Q- Are you comfortable with this newly developed soft Hindutva pitch of Congress.
 Ans- There is no such thing as soft Hindutva or hard Hindutva. The Hindutva word is a misnomer. It has nothing to do with religion.
Q- Muslims seem to have fallen out of political discourse. Parties are not even fielding many Muslim candidates even in Madhya Pradesh. Seems parties are diffident to raise Muslim issues.
 Ans- It’s not that we have fielded three Muslim candidates. BJP fielded only one. There is no such diffidence in Congress party. Congress party is a political party, which respects all religions. We are not biased against or biased for any religion.
Q- Why there is so much Internal fighting in Congress even now? What after polls. If at all as you say Congress will form the government, will it possible to have a smooth decision on who will hold the Chair. Leaders are rebelling. Even a senior leader like Satyavrat Chaturvedi, who was MP and AICC general secretary was suspended. Why this row?
 Ans- Absolutely smooth. In fact, I never see the party as united as this time. It is very unfortunate that Satyavrat Chaturvedi has allowed his son to contest on SP ticket. His family has been a freedom fighter family, who stood by Congress party for more almost seven decades, more than seven decades. I think he should not have done that.
Q-  Do you foresee the construction of Ram Temple at Ayodhya beginning before 2019 general elections?
Ans- I heard Mr Amit Shah the other day. What he said we would act according to the Constitution which means they would abide by the Constitution.

Congress leader Digvijay Singh PTI photo.

Q- How has been the transition of power in Congress since RG took as Congress President? Way back in 2010, you had said that its time that old leaders should make way for new ones and Rahul Gandhi should build a new time. Do you foresee a Margdarshak Mandal of BJP like scenario in Congress as well when senior leaders are pushed in the background.
 Ans. He has started the process of change. It is welcome. It is the law of nature. When old leaves fall, the new leaves come. It’s the law of nature.
Q- So what is your definition of age. At what age people should retire in politics?
Ans- You can’t define age. There is no retirement age in politics.
Q- Do you see a young leadership emerging in Congress even in Madhya Pradesh for future?
 Ans- You got a strong young leadership emerging in all sections.
Q- It was also heard that you are not in the race for Chief Ministership.
Ans- Yes, I am not in the race for Chief Ministership. There is no question.
Q- Do you see the election in Chhattisgarh turning triangular this time and Ajit Jogi- Mayawati alliance emerging as another force.  Will Mayawati factor hurt Congress in MP and Chhattisgarh.  
Ans- No. It is going to be a pi-polar election. It (BSP) is not going to make an impact here.

Q- Are you prepared to accept the outcome of elections in three states MP, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh as a referendum on Modi government’s performance. Do you think it will have a direct bearing on 2019 Lok Sabha polls?
 Ans- I have a different view on this. Electorates are very wise. They know whom they are voting for in a state election and whom in general election.  So you can’t generalise. It may not.
Q- How do you see an Opposition alliance firming up in 2019 for general elections. Because a lot of efforts were made earlier as well and they do not seem to fructify at the end.
 Ans-My understanding is all political opposed to the BJP will fight the 2019 election unitedly.

Congress leader Digvijay Singh DH Photo.

Q- Why are you expecting any change of guard in the Centre in 2019?
 Ans- I am very hopeful. This is because of the declining popularity of Modi and political arithmetic. In a strong Modi wave, the BJP polled 31 percent votes. There is a decline of 5 to 7 percent votes of BJP of Modi’s popularity. And I don’t think Modi is going to get a second term.
Q- But in Madhya Pradesh, many say CM Shivraj Chouhan is still popular
 Ans- There is a definite decline (in Chouhan’s popularity). You may or may not be aware that even in Chouhan’s constituency Budhni his wife and son were faced with protests.
Q- Do you see a change of guard happening in MP this time? In 2013 also, it was said but Congress lost badly.
 Ans- In last one year from September 2017 to November 2018, I have travelled through the length and breadth of the state. First, covered half of the state 104 assembly seats during Narmada Yatra, where I walked on my feet. Then during our coordination committee meetings, we covered 194 seats. And I could reconnect with all our Congress workers. And I assure you this time we are forming the government.

Q- BJP leaders have made statements about your Naxal link related to Bheem Koregaon case. Your take.
 Ans- I am very surprised. If it is so why PM Modi does he not arrest me. Why does he not file an FIR against me? If I am linked with all those involved in all anti-national activities, who is stopping Mr Modi from taking action against me. Who is stopping Shivraj Singh Chouhan from taking action against me?
Q- In the last Assembly polls, you raised the issue of VYAPAM scam to the hilt. It is not being discussed as much this time. Is not having resonance?
 Ans- It is being discussed. It is part of our manifesto. It is part of our charge-sheet. Yes, definitely it is having resonance.

Q- External Affair Minister Sushma Swaraj announced that she will not contest 2019 polls. How do you look at it?
Ans- It’s her choice what can I say.

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