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Dissenting Congress leaders plan to hold another event in Haryana, question party’s election strategy in West Bengal

"Congress cannot be selective in fighting communalists but must do so in all its manifestations, irrespective of religion and colour. The presence and endorsement of West Bengal PCC President is painful and shameful, he must clarify," Congress leader Anand Sharma had criticised the alliance with radical cleric Abbas Siddiqui.

The political turmoil that began within the Congress party, after a group of 23 (G-23) dissenting Congress leaders expressed their unhappiness with the top leadership, has refused to die down. Following a successful 3-day ‘Global Gandhi Family’ event in Jammu, the G-23 leaders are now planning another event in the Kurukshetra district of Haryana.

News agency ANI reported that the planning for the second event in Haryana is underway although it has not been finalised. The G-23 leaders have emphasised that the Congress party is becoming weak which in turn has weakened the Opposition in the country. The ‘group of dissenters’ in the Congress, which includes the likes of Ghulam Nabi Azad, Kapil Sibal, Manish Tiwari, Raj Babbar, Anand Sharma and so on, are unhappy with Rahul Gandhi’s recent ‘North-South’ remarks. They are also disappointed over Ghulam Nabi Azad not being re-nominated to the Upper House of Parliament.

While batting for Azad, senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal emphasised, “We do not know why the party is not using the experience of Gulam Nabi Azad.” At the same time, the rebel leaders are upset at being left out from all policy decisions including poll strategy. They have also been left out from campaigning. A senior leader, who was part of the Jammu event, informed that the G-23 leaders have not been made star campaigners in the five poll-bound states or contacted by the party high command. They have also not been assigned any tasks for elections.

Congress leader Anand Sharma questions party’s alliance with ISF and communal forces for West Bengal elections

Hitting out at the Congress, G-23 leader Anand Sharma questioned the decision of the party to forge an alliance with radical cleric Abbas Siddiqui‘s Indian Secular Front (ISF). He said, “Congress’ alliance with parties like ISF and other such forces militates against the core ideology of the party and Gandhian and Nehruvian secularism, which forms the soul of the party. These issues need to be approved by the CWC (Congress Working Committee).

He further added, “Congress cannot be selective in fighting communalists but must do so in all its manifestations, irrespective of religion and colour. The presence and endorsement West Bengal PCC President is painful and shameful, he must clarify.” It must also be mentioned that G-23 rebel leaders may prop opposition candidate in party presidential polls in June.

Congress top leadership maintains silence, other loyalists slam ‘rebels’ on their behalf

While the internal turmoil within the party increases against the top brass of the Congress, it is said that the party leadership is treading with caution. They have neither taken any disciplinary action against the G-23 leaders or sought explanation for the event in Jammu. ANI reported that the top leadership, comprising of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, does not want to demotivate the party cadre by cracking down on its own heavyweight leaders.

Defending the Congress’ decision, party leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury advised Anand Sharma to know his ‘facts’. He said, “CPI(M) led Left Front is leading the secular alliance in West Bengal of which Congress is an integral part. We are determined to defeat BJP’s communal & divisive politics and an autocratic regime. Congress has got its full share of seats. Left Front is allocating seats from its share to the newly formed Indian Secular Front-ISF. Ur choice to call the decision of CPM led front ‘communal’ is only serving the polarising agenda of BJP.”

Furthermore, he said, “Those who are committed to fight against BJP party’s venomous communalism should support the Congress & campaign for the party in five states rather than attempting to undermine the party by remarks in tune with BJP’s agenda.” Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury also hit out at Ghulam Nabi Azad for his recent comments, praising PM Modi, for being connected to his roots.

“Would urge a select group of distinguished Congress leaders to rise above always seeking personal comfort spots & stop wasting time singing praises of PM. They owe a duty to strengthen the Party & not undermine the tree that nurtured them,” he added. Besides Adhir Ranjan, former Congress leader Jitin Prasada claimed that ‘alliances’ are forged in the best interests of the party. While tagging Anand Sharma, he urged, “Now is the time for everyone to join hands and work towards strengthening the prospects of the Congress in the poll-bound states.”

Earlier, the advocate and Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi hit out at G-23 leaders and said that it would have been better if the ‘respected leaders’ campaigned for the party in poll-bound States. He made the comments despite being well-aware that the party top leadership did not make them star campaigners in any State. “The one who has used the term ‘used’ does not know the legacy of the party. The man about whom the word has been used has been a Congress MP seven times,” Singhvi said.

G-23 leader Ghulam Nabi Azad heaps praise on PM Modi

On Sunday, while addressing a public gathering, Ghulam Nabi Azad said, “I find several qualities admirable in different leaders. I hail from a village. I feel proud when leaders like our Prime Minister say that he too hails from a village. We differ with him in political views but he doesn’t shy away from his roots.”

After praising PM Modi, he pointed out that the top brass of Congress has ‘lost touch’ with reality. “The moment you disconnect yourself from your roots, you start living in a world of delusion. I have travelled across the world but my true calling lies in my own village,” he emphasised.


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