This Article is From Feb 27, 2021

"Truth Is We See Party Getting Weak": Congress 'Dissenters' In Jammu

In August last year Kapil Sibal, Ghulam Nabi Azad and others wrote to interim Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, asking for "full time" and visible" leadership

Ghulam Nabi Azad and the group of dissenting Congress leaders met in J&K on Saturday

New Delhi: The Congress is "getting weak", Kapil Sibal said at a public event in J&K on Saturday, as members of the G-23 - senior leaders who have questioned the Gandhis' leadership style - shared a stage and calls to strengthen the party before polls in Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry and Assam. The meeting also comes days after the BJP lashed out over Rahul Gandhi's remark about Kerala voters. In August last year a number of Congress leaders - Mr Sibal among them - triggered a rift in the party after writing to interim chief Sonia Gandhi, to ask for "full time" and "visible" leadership. Last month it was decided a new chief would be elected in June, after the forthcoming elections, but this was after calls for immediate organisational polls were overruled.

Here are the top 10 points in this big story:

  1. "The truth is that we see the Congress getting weak. That is why we have gathered. We gathered earlier too and we have to strengthen the party together," Mr Sibal said. "Our voice is for the betterment of the party. It should be strengthened... We have seen the good days... do not want to see it weakening as we become older," Mr Sharma said.

  2. "People say 'G23', I say Gandhi 23. With the belief, resolve and thinking of Mahatma Gandhi, this nation's law and Constitution was formed. Congress is standing strongly to take these forward. 'G23' want Congress to be strong," actor-politician Raj Babbar said.

  3. Apart from Mr Sibal, Mr Sharma and Mr Babbar, the group that took to the stage on Saturday included former Rajya Sabha MP Ghulam Nabi Azad, current Rajya Sabha MP Vivek Tankha, Lok Sabha MP Manish Tewari, and former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda. All these leaders are from north India.

  4. Earlier this week Rahul Gandhi's remark about the difference between UP and Kerala voters led to the BJP accusing the Congress of trying to "divide" north and south India. Mr Gandhi's comment drew guarded criticism from Mr Sibal, and a nuanced response today from Mr Azad.

  5. "Be it J&K or Ladakh, we respect all religions, people and castes. We respect everyone equally... that is our strength and we will continue with this," Mr Azad said, in comments seen underlining the dissenting leaders' resolve for change in the Congress.

  6. The dissenting leaders' gathering met with a careful response from the party. "When elections are happening in five states, these leaders could have been in these states to strengthen the Congress...," Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, before adding that the party was "proud of them".

  7. Between March 27 and April 29 elections will be held in Assam, Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Elections will also be held in Puducherry, where the Congress on Monday lost its government after yet another wave of defections to the BJP.

  8. These will be the first major elections since the party slumped to defeat in Bihar, where it won just 19 of the 70 seats it contested, and potentially cost itself and ally Rashtriya Janata Dal, which won 75 seats, a chance at forming the government.

  9. In August last year a number of Congress leaders - Mr Sibal and Mr Azad among them - wrote a letter to interim chief Sonia Gandhi, asking for introspection over continued poor performances in elections, and for "full time" and "visible" leadership to take the party forward. In December Mrs Gandhi met the dissenters and last month it was decided a new chief would be elected in June, after the forthcoming elections.

  10. However, this was after the G-23's call for immediate polls was overruled. "What is happening is a clear violation of agreement at CWC meeting in December last year... there are no signs of any reforms or election," a senior G-23 leader told ANI today.

With input from ANI