‘Shareholder, not tenant’: Sidestepped by leadership, Cong’s G-23 gets restless

Veteran politician Ghulam Nabi Azad’s raising the banner of revolt and severing 50-year-old ties with Congress and his supporters following the suit has brought to fore the long simmering tension between Rahul Gandhi and G-23 leaders.

In a long resignation letter, Azad, who his part of the G-23 dissent group, took sharp digs at Rahul Gandhi squarely blaming him for his exit. The letter also indicated that several leaders from the G-23 had already crossed to BJP.

While interacting with the media he also spoke about floating his party in Jammu and Kashmir before the elections.

Speculation is rife that many of them are drifting towards the ruling party after being ignored by the Congress during the Rajya Sabha elections and subsequent party polls.

While reacting to Azad’s resignation and the state of affairs in Congress, another senior leader Manish Tewari — a vocal critic of the present Congress setup — stated: “I am not a tenant but a shareholder in the party and have given more than four decades.”

Apparently, the discontentment among the veterans has stemmed from Rahul Gandhi’s “style of functioning” which they have time and again expressed. Azad has squarely accused the Gandhi scion of destroying the party and said that “proxies are propped up” for the president’s post, who will only be a mere puppet.

In his resignation letter, he said, “Unfortunately, the situation in the Congress party has reached such a point of no return that now “proxies are being propped up to take over the leadership of the party. This experiment is doomed to fail because the party has been so comprehensively destroyed that the situation has become irretrievable. Moreover, the ‘chosen one’ would be nothing more than a puppet on a string.”

He said at the national level the Congress has conceded the political space available to the BJP and state level space to regional parties.

“This all happened because the leadership in the past eight years has tried to foist a non-serious individual at the helm of the party,” he alleged without taking the name of Rahul Gandhi.

Anand Sharma, who is also upset, has not left the party but he is in his home state to find out the ground reality and likely to take a harsh decision as he has already met BJP President JP Nadda. He, however, termed the meeting “personal”.

Speculation also gained ground as news spread that the meeting between Sharma and Nadda had taken place in July.

Some of the dissenters have already crossed over to the BJP including Jitin Prasada who is now a minister in the Uttar Pradesh government.

The group was lying low after being completely sidelined in the party except for their presence on a few committees. Their leaders are unhappy after not being given a chance for the Rajya Sabha for which they were hopefuls.

But now Azad has taken a decision, Kapil Sibal has parted ways and people like Jitin Prasada are in BJP along with R.P.N Singh.

Former Delhi MLA Tarvinder Marwah who recently joined BJP said: “Devoted my whole life and youth to the Congress party. But there is no respect for workers who gave everything to it. People whom nobody knew are made general secretaries in place of hardworking workers. Rajya Sabha seats were given to the people who lost the elections. People who cannot be appointed as even peons are given key responsibilities.”

Pointing towards the G-23, Marwah said they are not going to get anything as the leadership does not see their dedication and sacrifices for the party. “G-23 leaders must join the BJP as they will get the respect they deserve here.”

The former Congress MLA claimed that the Congress leadership is completely disconnected from the cadre. “I have been seeking time for one and a half years to meet Rahul Gandhi, but failed to get an appointment. They are not meeting any workers,” Marwah added.

Tension has been building up within the Congress since the names of veteran party leaders like Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma and Veerappa Moily did not figure in the Rajya Sabha candidates’ list.

However, some G-23 leaders like Sandeep Dikshit called it “betrayal” since the group had raised a banner of reforms not revolt.

In his letter to Azad, Dikshit said: “I read your letter of resignation, it gave me a sense of dismay and unfortunately then a sense of betrayal.”

“The matter we raised in that letter, and the spirit in which many of us signed it and many others supported what was written in it, was in many ways a pathway to revitalise this greatest of political parties, that lies, as you say in your letter also, in its darkest abyss today. But to my mind, we, and in it, had raised the banner of reform, not a banner of revolt.”

“When the letter was written, it was believed that the Congress should strengthen itself, I will never ever have a personal political future in it,” he said.

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