File photo of Chhattisgarh deputy Chief Minister TS Singh Deo
As the Congress Working Committee (CWC) focused on unity and discipline to take on the BJP in elections, Deputy Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh TS Singh Deo apologized for speaking out of line and praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Mr. Singh Deo — who was invited to the extended CWC meet as a member of the party’s Central Election Committee — informed his colleagues that he would like to apologize for his remarks.
He said that he had already apologized to the Congress in-charge for Chhattisgarh, Kumari Selja, after she had pointed it out to him, and then offered another round of apology to the CWC members.
“Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge then told him that despite being sorry, the damage had been done. As a deputy Chief Minister and a senior member, people would take his words seriously,” said a leader who was present at the meeting. The Congress chief is also said to have cited the incident involving Mr. Singh Deo as a cautionary example for others, the leader added.
On Thursday, at an event in Raigarh during which Mr. Modi announced several development initiatives for Chhattisgarh, Mr. Singh Deo, as a representative of the State government, had thanked him for giving a “lot of things to Chhattisgarh”.
“We have always worked under the guidance of the Central government, and I do not want to miss out on saying that, in my experience, I did not feel any discrimination… In the State, when we asked for something from the Central government, they… never denied help. And I believe that going forward, the State and Center will work together in all the fields to take our country and State forward,” Mr. Singh Deo had said, even as Mr. Modi responded with folded hands.
However, the party’s central leadership had publicly played down the remarks, with former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram stating that Mr. Singh Deo had only followed protocol by not bringing in “politics” at a government function.
While addressing a press conference on the deliberations of the CWC on Saturday, when Mr. Chidambaram was asked about Mr. Singh Deo’s remarks, he said, “The Chhattisgarh Deputy Chief Minister was participating in an official function, in which the Central government and State government were launching a project. Protocol required that he doesn’t bring issues or areas of disagreement in such a meeting.”
Congress communication chief Jairam Ramesh added that, “unlike the Prime Minister who abused the Congress from every government function,” Mr. Singh Deo did not criticize in a government function.