Finding something good Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done would be like looking for a needle in a haystack, senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid said on Sunday, days after some party leaders called for praising the PM whenever he does good work.
Khurshid also said the Congress has "very serious concerns" about how the country is being run.
His remarks come days after Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said Prime Minister Modi's governance model is not a "complete negative story" and not recognising his work and demonising him all the time is not going to help.
Congress leaders Shashi Tharoor and Abhishek Manu Singhvi had also backed Ramesh over the remarks, saying the prime minister should be praised for doing the right things.
"From my point of view, it would be (like) looking for a needle in a haystack to find something good that he (Modi) has done," Khurshid told PTI in an interview.
On the remarks by Ramesh and other leaders calling for not demonising Modi, the former Union minister said he would not like to give "one on one" responses as it would create more confusion.
"He (Ramesh) has said what he had to say. Each one of us articulates things in a manner which is suitable (to oneself). As I said, for me saying something nice about Mr. Modi would be like looking for a needle in a haystack," he said.
Talking about the Gandhi family's role in the party going forward, Khurshid said it was a ground reality that they are the "fulcrum" of the Congress today.
"Irrespective of what the BJP might say, no matter what the results may have indicated, we still believe they (the Gandhi family) are head and shoulders high above most of us," the 66-year-old leader said.
On whether Sonia Gandhi assuming charge as interim Congress chief had put an end to uncertainty and infighting prevailing in the party, Khurshid said he hopes so.
The party workers were hoping that Sonia Gandhi would come back for good, but the indication she has repeatedly given is that it is a "very temporary holding operation", Khurshid said.
"I hope that there is a change of mind because the (party) people, although they were very eager that Rahul (Gandhi) continue as the president, are now absolutely convinced that she (Sonia Gandhi) must stay for the near future. It is still a little bit of an imponderable, what will happen, we will have to wait and watch," Khurshid said.
Asked if the considered opinion within the party was that Sonia Gandhi must stay on as Congress chief for a longer duration, he said she will apply her mind to this herself because in the absence of a Gandhi family member at the top, the party does have a very difficult time looking for an alternative.
"But when we say this, the opposition tries to question our democratic attitudes. That is extremely unfair because there is a genuine attachment, liking and allegiance to the members of the Gandhi family. I think we have a right to make our choice," he asserted.
He said the general feeling in the party was that she needs to stay on as party chief.
"But this is a matter in which you cannot express very strong feelings being part of the top echelons of the party because ultimately we must not appear like we are forcing our opinion on our leaders," the senior Congress leader said.
"We must respect our leaders' opinion, but we have already made it clear that we need her in these circumstances and we hope that she will hear our appeal," he said.
On the criticism by some that Sonia Gandhi becoming party chief was a step backwards from the promise of "young leadership", Khurshid said the Congress talked about young leadership because it had a young leader in Rahul Gandhi who is still around and will be around.
"But we don't owe it to the opposition (BJP) to do what they want us to do. We will do what we want to do. What we need is leadership that reflects the mood of contemporary India and leadership factors will include the factor of age, but it can't be only the factor of age," he said.
Asked if Priyanka Gandhi could be a suitable option as Congress president after Sonia Gandhi, Khurshid said he "can't be a judge of this".
"I think we are lucky that we have Mrs (Sonia) Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, and Rahul Gandhi. How this will play out, how they will team up etc. for future organisational efficiency, they will work out these things and if anyone of us is involved in giving advice where we are required to give advice, we certainly will," he said.
A few steps are an indication that that the Congress is putting its act together, he said.
Khurshid said it was not too late to get battle ready for polls in states such as Haryana and Maharashtra, but the Congress does not have the leisure to put its feet up as every minute counts.
For in-depth, objective and more importantly balanced journalism, Click here to subscribe to Outlook Magazine