At a crucial Congress Working Committee meeting, some G-23 leaders on Sunday said they have been seeking corrective measures only to strengthen the party but a few have vilified them as those working at the BJP’s behest, and asserted that this must stop as they remain “lifelong Congressmen”. They also said that they are “not political tourists” and the Congress leadership must be conscious of rumour-mongers giving mischievous twists to their suggestions.
Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma and Mukul Wasnik were the only three from the Group of 23 leaders, who have repeatedly pressed for organisational overhaul, present at the meeting of the CWC, which has a large number of Gandhi family loyalists. “Today, when we talk of introspection and accountability, words are mischievously twisted, giving an impression by some within the party that it is a rebellion. We have been lifelong Congress members and have remained so in the party for 50-long years,” a G-23 leader was quoted as saying at the meeting.
The leaders also said that those coming from other parties should not be made state Congress chiefs and squabbling in state units should stop. One of the G-23 leaders also pointed out that “we are not political tourists” and said the party leadership has to be conscious of “rumour-mongers and naradmunis”.
The G-23 leaders present at the meeting said they were part of the organisation and would remain so and would do everything to strengthen it to ensure its success at the hustings, sources said.
According to sources, Sharma said the Congress has to revive itself in the Hindi heartland by adhering to its core ideology and not flirt with any form of fundamentalism or communalism of any community. He also said that the recent defeat in assembly elections cannot be viewed in isolation and immediate corrective measures must be taken.
The deputy leader of the Congress in Rajya Sabha said that in continuity of the string of defeats, the question to be pondered over is “why are we being rejected?”, according to the sources. Sharma also pointed out that the defeat of the Congress in Punjab and Uttarakhand were ominous signs for the party as it prepares for the Himachal Pradesh polls later this year.
He said the surge of the Aam Aadmi Party in Punjab is a challenge and a collective effort is required to strengthen the party, and it cannot be business as usual.
The sources said Azad stated at the meeting that an honest dialogue and discussion should take place in the CWC which has been the Congress’ tradition since the days of Jawaharlal Nehru when there used to be heated discussions, arguments and walkouts during brainstorming sessions.
Azad said they were making suggestions for strengthening the party but some within the party dubbed them as working at the behest of the BJP. He also called for collective introspection. One G-23 leader also suggested a dialogue with like-minded parties and bring them on one platform to help displace the BJP from the Centre in 2024.
The sources said Wasnik shared data to point out that the Congress had only 14 seats in Lok Sabha from Jammu to Nagpur, and must correct itself to win back people’s faith. Wasnik also pointed out that the Congress has lost 39 out of 49 elections held since 2014 and questioned why the party has embarked on a soft Hindutva ideology.
With inputs from News18