Abhishek Singhvi interview: ‘Yashwant Sinha is a powerful name (for Prez poll) with rich experience… (who exposes) whatever is wrong with BJP’

Congress president Sonia Gandhi Thursday appointed Abhishek Singhvi, the All India Congress Committee (AICC) spokesman, as a member of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the party’s highest decision-making body, along with a few other names. In an interview with The Indian Express, Singhvi spoke on a range of burning issues. Excerpts:

How do you see your elevation as a CWC member?

Undoubtedly, it is a matter of great honour, privilege and pleasure. Personally, I see this apex decision-making body of the Congress as representing firstly, geographical diversity, secondly, community diversity, and thirdly, a kind of a brains trust or an in-house think tank. The third element needs to be reinforced and reinvigorated.

On the Presidential election, there is a sense that the Opposition lacked imagination. And the Congress, the main Opposition party, simply sat back and let the other parties come up with names and agreed on the name on which there was wider acceptance. Why?

I don’t quite agree with this formulation for the reason that firstly, the paramount consideration has to be consensus. There cannot be “ekla chalo” model on the President’s selection. Secondly, Gopal Krishna Gandhi was our choice more than five years ago and was again a front-runner this time. One cannot be blamed if for a variety of reasons he declined gracefully. Yashwant Sinha is a powerful name with rich experience and represents a thinking process about whatever is wrong with the BJP. I do not mean the slightest disrespect to the NDA candidate and she has every right to vigorously campaign and claim the Presidency but that should not detract from the continuous efforts of every segment of the Opposition for the last several days to provide a very respectable ideological opponent.

On the ED’s questioning of Rahul Gandhi, the Congress has been attacking the government accusing it of misusing the agency. The party has called the ED’s summoning “illegal”. Then why hasn’t the party approached the court or taken a legal recourse?

It’s completely wrong to suggest that “confinement by questioning” or “detention through questioning” for 55 hours over 5 days can be attacked only by going to court. The whole point is that there’s nothing to go to court about. Interminable questioning was intended for harassment, heaping insults and political objectives. Certainly Rahul Gandhi could have sought anticipatory bail but we had resolutely decided not to do so because he was confident in standing up to such intimidation. How can the ED first act perversely and unreasonably and then put the ball in our court saying we should seek legal redress for their unreasonable behaviour.

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