Moments after calling the contents of Ghulam Nabi Azad's fiery resignation letter "inaccurate", Congress General Secretary Jairam Ramesh has questioned his character. "GNA's DNA has been modi-fied," he said, accusing him of "betraying" the grand old party.
"A man who has been treated by the greatest respect by the Congress leadership has betrayed it by his vicious personal attacks which reveals his true character. GNA's DNA has been modi-fied," he said.
A man who has been treated by the greatest respect by the Congress leadership has betrayed it by his vicious personal attacks which reveals his true character. GNA's DNA has been modi-fied.— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) August 26, 2022
Mr Azad's scathing criticism of Rahul Gandhi and public resignation from Congress has triggered a massive backlash from party loyalists, with many questioning his intent.
Sources close to Mr Azad have said he plans to start a new party.
In a press conference earlier today, Congress spokespersons said it was "unfortunate" that the senior leader had resigned in such fashion at a time when the party is gearing up for massive nationwide mobilisation against the ruling BJP.
"We have read the letter of veteran Congress leader Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad that has been released to the media. It is most unfortunate that this has happened at a time when Congress President Smt Sonia Gandhi, Shri Rahul Gandhi and the entire party organisation is involved in fighting the BJP on public issues of mehangai (price rise), berozgaari (unemployment) and polarisation and when final preparations are being made for the Mehangai par Hallo Bol rally in New Delhi on Sept 4th and for launch of the Bharat Jodo Yatra from Kanyakumari on Sept 7th," the party said.
Mr Azad, who was part of the G-23 dissident group calling for a change in party leadership and organisation, quit the party today ripping into Rahul Gandhi for "childish behaviour", "glaring immaturity" and for letting a "coterie of inexperienced sycophants" run the party.
Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit, also part of G-23, expressed dismay and a "sense of betrayal" over Mr Azad's resignation from the party. "When I read your letter of resignation, it gave me a sense of dismay and unfortunately, then a sense of betrayal," he wrote to Mr Azad, adding that the G-23 letter "had raised the banner of reform, not a banner of revolt".
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said Mr Azad was on several posts over the last 42 years, and no one expected such a letter from him. "Sonia ji is in US for checkup and you are releasing a letter - this is not good," he said, adding that Mr Azad was a sycophant himself during the time of Sanjay Gandhi.
Social media is flooded with Congress leaders arguing that Mr Azad enjoyed a lot of power and held top party posts without having any mass base and got upset when denied continued access to privilege.