Coal scam: Sonia, Congress' solidarity march for Manmohan Singh is ironic

It’s the Congress which probably caused more damage to the squeaky-clean image of Dr Manmohan Singh than any outsider.

Sanjeev Singh March 13, 2015 07:30:24 IST
Coal scam: Sonia, Congress' solidarity march for Manmohan Singh is ironic

It’s the Congress which probably caused more damage to the squeaky-clean image of Dr Manmohan Singh than any outsider. It left his reputation as an economist in tatters; it made him the owner of legacy he won’t look back with much fondness. After he quit as Prime Minister after presiding over the worst ever performance of the party, not many were sympathetic to him. So, all senior party leaders conducting a solidarity march for him after the court order in the coal scam was interesting.

After Congress president Sonia Gandhi decided to make her support public for the beleaguered leader, a host of senior leaders and MPs marched from the Congress headquarters to Dr Singh’s residence at Motilal Nehru Marg. The likes of Digvijaya Singh, Sheila Dikshit, AK Antony, PC Chacko, P Chidambaram, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge, Satyavrat Chaturvedi, Veerappa Moily, Vyalar Ravi, Kumari Selja and Mani Shankar Aiyar followed Sonia Gandhi on the streets.

Coal scam Sonia Congress solidarity march for Manmohan Singh is ironic

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. AFP

"We are here to offer our unstinted support and show our solidarity to him. The Congress party is fully behind him," said Sonia Gandhi, Congress President. "We will fight this legally and have no doubt that Dr Singh will be vindicated," she added.

It was hard to believe that most of the leaders present during the march were those who had often made their displeasure against the then PM Manmohan Singh known openly, often taking him to task over policies which they believed went against the interests of Congress.

"It is ironic that one of the most honest politicians in the country is to be questioned by CBI," said Digvijaya Singh, senior party leader. P Chidambaram dared the NDA asking "Why is the government reluctant to say we stand by CBI's report? CBI has twice said that there is no ground or charge to take criminal action".

This sort of sympathy pouring in for Dr Singh makes it a curious case of Congress party’s intricate web of intra fighting yet again. After having got brickbats for the party’s failure to get rid of the “corrupt” tag during his last few years as prime minister, life seems to have come a full circle for him.

While the ruling NDA has maintained that Dr Singh is paying for the sins committed by Congress, other parties viewed the solidarity march with amusement. “If only this had been the case when he (MMS) headed the Government,” wrote BJD MP Jay Panda on Twitter. But things could get difficult for both Dr Singh and Panda’s party chief Naveen Patnaik over the allocation of Talabira-II and III coal blocks in Odisha to Hindalco in 2005.

It is alleged that Centre’s decision to allot the coal block in an arbitrary manner was done citing the Odisha government’s letter favouring the Aditya Birla Group subsidiary (Hindalco). The Court also maintains that former PM cannot take the plea that he could not look into minute details of each case before him.

Barbs and allegations aside, the Congress smells an opportunity to turn the Court’s action into an act of witch hunting by the Centre. The same BJP had refused to accept a lunch invitation by the then PM in June 2010 over the issue of CBI misuse against Amit Shah in Sohrabuddin fake encounter case. Amit Shah is now the BJP President and it presents a golden chance to turn the same allegations in reverse order. Apart from the Land Bill, the Congress has been unable to muster enough support amongst themselves over issues to take on the ruling dispensation till now.

Even though the former PM may have little political relevance in party’s scheme of things, but Congress is more than happy to cash in on his "honest" image to boost the party’s morale in these trying times.

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