As the nation heads for crucial Assembly elections in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Kerala and Puducherry, the Indian National Congress is hurtling towards an alarming decline. Apart from Tamil Nadu where it will piggyback on the DMK, its prospects especially in Bengal look weak. At such a crucial juncture, the infamous G-23, comprising of the estranged stalwarts of the grand old party, is now openly campaigning against the INC as senior party leaders Anand Sharma and Kapil Sibal have stated that the INC is getting weak.
In an effort to display their show of strength, the G-23 leaders met in Jammu to demand sweeping reforms in the Congress party. Senior leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Kapil Sibal, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Manish Tewari, Raj Babbar and Vivek Tankha attended the joint public event held in Jammu. It is pertinent to note that the event was organised by the Gandhi Global Family – an organisation headed by Azad.
At the meeting, Sibal hit out at INC, saying, “It is an opportunity, to tell the truth, and I will tell the truth.”
He added, “Why have we assembled here today? The truth is that we see the Congress party is getting weakened… We have gathered together in the past as well… We have to strengthen the party together.”
Sibal also hit out at the party decision of letting an experienced hand like Azad retire from the Rajya Sabha. “I felt sad when Azad was freed from Parliament… Hum nahin chahte thay ki Ghulam Nabi Azad saab ko Parliament se azaadi miley,” said the former Union Minister.
Singing Azad’s praises, Sibal said, “There is not a single leader who he doesn’t know personally. When he was leader of the Opposition and he telephoned any leader, they would come to his place the next morning… I am not able to understand why the Congress is not making istemaal (use) of this experience.”
Deputy leader of the INC in Rajya Sabha, Anand Sharma too claimed that the party is getting weaker. “Our voice is for the betterment of the Congress, for strengthening it in every state. The new generation should join. We have seen the good days of the Congress. We don’t want to see it weakening as we become old,” said Sharma.
He added, “I have not given anyone that right (to say that)… All of us have covered a very long distance to reach where we are today. Nobody among us has been airdropped. We have not come through a window or a ventilator, all of us have walked through the door. We have come through the students’ and youth movement.”
Congress deployed Abhishek Manu Singhvi to counter the statements made by G-23 leaders in Jammu. Singhvi advised the G-23 leaders to campaign for the party in poll-bound states to strengthen the party’s hand.
The frustrations of the G-23 leaders is understandable as party scion Rahul Gandhi is determined to sink Congress’ boat through his sheer incompetence and lack of appetite for politics. Of late, Gandhi has been practising divide and rule politics as in Assam he hit out at Gujarat traders which perhaps played a key role in the party’s resounding defeat in the Gujarat Civic Elections.
Recently in Kerala, Rahul Gandhi termed North India as “superficial” with the party rushing to douse the fire started by him. The G-23 leaders perhaps realise that at this rate, Congress will soon lose its status as a national party if Gandhi was allowed to have his own way and hence have openly started lambasting the Congress in their last-ditch attempt to save the party’s sinking fortunes.