Even tea vendor can be PM: Digvijay; BJP welcomes Modi ‘praise’

Even tea vendor can be PM Digvijay;BJP welcomes Modi praiseNEW DELHI: In unexpected comments, Congress leader Digvijay Singh, a known Narendra Modi baiter, today said the Gujarat CM was moving away from his “fanatic” ideology and that “even a chaiwallah can become the Prime Minister”, which were promptly welcomed by BJP as praise for its PM candidate.

Singh said that he “welcomes that Modi is gradually distancing from his fanatic ideology and gravitating towards the ideology of Atal Bihari Vajpayee” and “it should be welcomed if Sangh and the BJP…are coming close to the ideology of Congress and (Jawaharlal) Nehru.”

He, however, added that “Modi will not be acceptable to people of India” and he would prefer Sushma Swaraj to him “if god forbid BJP comes to power”.

Responding to criticism that Congress is fine with the party being in the hands of a family and some special people calling the shots but does not like common workers rising as in the BJP, Singh said it was not true.

He said in a democracy “if a shepherd from Kerala can become President so also a tea-vendor (chaiwallah) can become Prime Minister”, remarks which were seen as a reference to Modi’s humble origins.

BJP leader Smriti Irani latched on to the comments saying “we had not thought that Digvijay Singh will say that even a chaiwallah can become Prime Minister…I am happy that Modi ji is being praised so much by Digvijay Singh ji.”

At this, Singh said, “Nobody is untouchable in democracy irrespective of the family he is born in, whether it is poor or rich.”

The Congress leader at the same time said that Modi is “not a factor” for Congress and that while Vajpayee and Sushma Swaraj can be acceptable “Modi will not be acceptable to people of India” as the country’s basic temperament is one that favors communal harmony.

He was speaking at the ‘Agenda Aaj Tak 2013’ – a two-day conclave of India Today Group that began here yesterday.

He also rubbished the exit poll results of assembly elections in the five states and refused to accept it as some sort of a semi final for the next Lok Sabha elections. The Congress general secretary said, “Modi is slowly distancing from his fanatic (kattarpanthi) ideology. It might be late but if he is now realizing that a fanatic ideology is not acceptable to the country, I am happy about it.

“Since he has realized it, he is now moving towards the ideology of Atal ji. That is why he is talking of inclusiveness in his speeches,” Singh said.

Maintaining that the fight of Congress is with the ideology and not personality, he said that since Modi has realized that the country will not accept any fanatic ideology, “hence a change is coming in his ideology.”

He added, “from a fanatic ideology, he is coming close to the ideology of Atal ji and talking about inclusiveness. This is Irani’s influence. Due to her company, Modi’s ideology is undergoing a change.”

The barbs between Singh and Irani continued as the BJP leader said that this also reflects the difference in the nature of leadership in the two parties as while in the BJP even a small worker is heard, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi does not listen to even a senior leader like Digvijay Singh.

The Congress leader, however, said that Gandhi has his own style and he does not need to prove his inclusive ideology, which has come naturally to him.

Singh also attacked Modi on the snoopgate issue reiterating his demand for a probe under Indian Telegraph Act and IT Act. Irani, however, expressed doubts over the veracity of the tapes and asked whether the woman has made any complaint.

She said that these “unverified” allegations will not be an issue in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, when people will decide their vote on issues like corruption, price rise and other key issues.

While Singh refused to accept either the merit of the exit polls or the contention that the results of the assembly elections prove Modi’s rise in next Lok Sabha polls, the BJP leader asserted that people are giving their opinion through these polls and her party will romp home in 2014 elections.

Singh argued that Congress had won in most of the state elections after the 2009 Lok Sabha polls wresting power from the BJP in four states and taking 110 assembly seats from them.–PTI

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