A few young ladies in Victorian England vouched for a chaperone with a spiteful tongue. The advantages, they argued, were many. While your foes never went without their well-deserved due; in case of doting friends, they could quickly and conveniently be disowned. A century and a quarter later, while chaperones have gone off the social fabric, lost in the folds of time; occasional doppelgangers have perhaps got refuge in the tenderloin of politics. An explanation as absurd and as remote as that can only justify Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh’s purpose and utility in the party’s scheme of things.
While the present-day sledgehammer politics at times observes its ‘below-the-belt’ constraints, Singh is superbly free from all such considerations and takes exceptional pleasure in knocking off the willy to a nilly. Take for example his latest banter. Everybody in the Congress has secretly voodooed comptroller and auditor general Vinod Rai for a long time, but a direct attack on a constitutional chair was left to Digvijay’s expertise. Singh has accused Rai of harbouring “political ambitions” like one of his predecessors, TN Chaturvedi, who had published a report on Bofors gun deal in 1989 and joined the BJP after retirement. He became an MP and later governor of Karnataka. This one is Diggi’s ace. Wit at its best. “What oft was thought but never so well expressed,” said Alexander Pope. Disowning the statement in case of a breach of propriety is always an option for the party. In the meanwhile, pleasure is all theirs.
But this god of acerbity has his own Achilles’ heel. He has frequently gored it into his own party’s back. The modern-day father of all conspiracy theories suffers from Caliban-istic cramps on seeing the colour saffron. Sadly, he sees it everywhere.
He had almost linked Mumbai terror attacks to one from the RSS hatcheries when he said that Mumbai ATS chief Hemant Karkare had called him hours before he was killed, talking to him about threats to his (Karkare’s) life from Hindu extremist groups; but those WikiLeaks cables delinked it all and sent him crashing down several leagues. Around the same time when Digvijay was enthusiastically giving interviews about Karkare’s call to him, US WikiLeaks cables quoted cables sent by the US ambassador about Congress party “playing religious politics” and “crass political opportunism” in planting doubts regarding Karkare's murder by Pakistani terrorists. Now, when Assange has his own troubled times, Diggi puts up a stern face — but the sadist in him is cachinnating.
Later, in his address to the Congress plenary session, Diggi spoke so much about the RSS that the Congressmen were confused whose session was it anyway. Speaking in the session, he equated the RSS to the Nazis and Israel later took grave offence to his comment.
Osama bin Laden’s killing, however, was what got Digvijay’s goat. He referred to the slain terrorist as ‘Osamaji’ and rebuked US for ill-treatment of his body. Even his seniors in the Congress had to criticise him for his comment. And his adversaries wondered why he couldn’t smell RSS hand in the entire episode.
As the Congress gloats in Diggi’s latest Rai banter, in UP ranks of the party, clamour for his ouster is rising. The cadre believes Diggi was main culprit behind the party’s rout in state assembly polls. “The Congress had managed to regain lost ground after the last parliamentary elections and Rahul Gandhi's efforts had further boosted Congress prospect in the last assembly elections but it was Digvijay Singh who raised the Batla House encounter issue in Azamgarh and even questioned the decision taken by the prime minister and home minister which pushed away both Hindus and Muslims as people started questioning our secular credentials,” a former MLA and senior Congress leader told The Pioneer correspondent in Lucknow on Wednesday.
All said, at least for the time being, the Congress gloats in this wily chaperone’s acerbity. At least until he gores his heel in their back another time.