Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar today caused a flutter saying a spell in opposition would do the party good and demanded an organisational revamp as envisaged by former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, remarks which come after the assembly poll debacle.
However, he denied media reports that he had sought removal of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Shortly after his remarks to media on the need to revamp the party in the wake of electoral defeat, he sent a clarification to the PMO saying the comments he made "clearly demonstrate" that he did not say what was being alleged.
"I would say it is good to lose. We can await an opportunity to do this revamping or refitting, reinvention of the party to suit the requirements of the 21st century, and that has to begin with Rajiv Gandhi's breakthrough, which is Panchayat Raj," he said, as the rout in four states left the Congress rattled, especially with Lok Sabha elections just few months away.
Aiyar said "every time we were about to revamp the party we came into government. Then guys who succeeded in winning the elections say what's wrong, lets stick to the system."
He also quoted Rajiv's famous speech in which he had said that "this was a party that has been captured by the brokers of power who ride on the backs of people and have converted a mass movement into a clique which dispenses patronage and has enmeshed the party in a net of avarice".
Congress dismissed Aiyar's statement as his personal view and not part of the thinking of the party.
"He is a senior leader who has occupied high posts and he has made these type of comments. It is his personal view and it is not a political call of the party," party spokesman Raj Babbar said at the AICC briefing.
Aiyar, a Rajya Sabha MP, said the party should reinvent but quickly added that he was not talking about a change in top leadership.
Perhaps a third of 32 lakh panchayat representatives are Congress people, he said. "Take a party of 10 lakh cadres and smash every other party in the country. Don't touch them as we haven't been touching them and this kind of result will happen," he said, referring to the rout in four states.
"When I say reinvent itself you are asking me, you know, will Chidambaram (Finance Minister) replace Manmohan Singh. That's a petty question. I am talking about the revamping of party which Rajiv Gandhi promised in 1985," he told reporters.
Rajiv had set up Uma Shankar Dixit committee and much later in 1999 Sonia Gandhi constituted AK Antony introspection committee.
When asked if party president Sonia Gandhi should take responsibility for the defeat, Aiyar said she had already taken it before media when final results had arrived.
"What do you expect her to do. Wear sack clothes and ashes to Parliament," he snapped.
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