In a major blow to Congress, veteran party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad resigned from all posts in the party
In a major blow to Congress, veteran party leader and member of the G23 group, Ghulam Nabi Azad, on Friday resigned from all posts in the party. He also accused the new coterie of inexperienced sycophants of starting to run the affairs of the grand old party.
He also said that former party chief Rahul Gandhi’s childish behaviour of tearing the ordinance copy contributed significantly to the defeat of the UPA government in 2014.
On September 27, 2013, Gandhi, then Congress vice president, chided the Congress-led UPA government for issuing an ordinance to negate the Supreme Court’s order on disqualifying convicted MPs and MLAs, terming it as “complete nonsense” that should be “torn and thrown out”.
His resignation came days after he resigned from the J&K Congress’ campaign committee and at a time when Sonia Gandhi is abroad for medical treatment.
Azad, who joined the Congress Party in 1970, was a close friend of the Gandhi family and worked for former Prime Ministers Indira and Rajiv Gandhi.
In his five-page resignation letter, Azad, who was also the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister said, “While undoubtedly, as the president of the Congress, you (Sonia Gandhi) played a sterling role in the formation of both the UPA-1 and UPA-2 governments. However, one of the major reasons for this success was that, as president, you heeded the wise counsel of senior leaders, besides trusting their judgement and delegating powers to them.”
“Unfortunately, after the entry of Rahul Gandhi into politics and particularly after January 2013, when he was appointed as vice president by you, the entire consultative mechanism which existed earlier was demolished by him,” he said, attacking the former party chief. He said that all senior and experienced leaders were sidelined and a new “coterie of inexperienced sycophants started running the affairs of the party”.
Citing the tearing of the ordinance as childish behaviour by Rahul Gandhi, the former party leader said, “One of the most glaring examples of this immaturity was the tearing up of a government ordinance in the full glare of the media by Rahul Gandhi. The said ordinance was incubated in the Congress Core Group and subsequently unanimously approved by the Union Cabinet presided over by the Prime Minister of India and duly approved by the President of India.”
“This ‘childish’ behaviour completely subverted the authority of the Prime Minister and the Government of India. This one single action, more than anything else, contributed significantly to the defeat of the UPA government in 2014, which was at the receiving end of a campaign of calumny and insinuation from a combination of the forces of the right-wing and certain unscrupulous corporate interests,” he said.
He further said, “You may recall that after you took over as the Congress President after dethroning Sitaram Kesri, the Congress leadership had met for brainstorming in Panchmarhi in October of 1998. Subsequently, there was another such session in Shimla in 2003 and then again in Jaipur in January 2013.”
“However, regrettably, none of the recommendations from these retreats were ever properly implemented. I had proposed, with the assistance of other members of the Committee, a detailed action plan to revitalise the party in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. That action plan was duly approved by the CWC,” he said.
He said that these recommendations were supposed to be implemented in a time-bound manner before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. “Unfortunately, these recommendations have been lying in the storeroom of the Congress for the past nine years… no effort was made to even examine them seriously,” Azad said.
Hitting out at the party leadership, Azad said that under your stewardship since 2014 and subsequently that of Rahul Gandhi, the Congress has lost two Lok Sabha elections in a humiliating manner and also lost 39 out of the 49 assembly elections held between 2014 and 2022.
“The party only won four state elections and was able to get into a coalition situation in six instances. Unfortunately, today, the INC is ruling in only two states and is a very marginal coalition partner in two other states,” he said.
He also questioned the timing of Rahul Gandhi’s resignation after the 2019 Lok Sabha without discussion with the senior leadership and said, “Since the 2019 elections the situation in the party has only worsened. After Rahul Gandhi stepped down in a huff and not before insulting all the senior Party functionaries who have given their lives to the party in a meeting of the extended Working Committee.”
“Worse still, the ‘remote control model’ that demolished the institutional integrity of the UPA government now gets applied to the Congress. While you are just a nominal figurehead, all the important decisions were taken by Rahul Gandhi or rather his security guards and PAs,” he said, attacking the party.
“In August of 2020, when I and 22 other senior colleagues, including former Union Ministers and Chief Ministers, wrote to you to flag the abysmal drift in the party, the “coterie” chose to unleash its sycophants on us and got us attacked, vilified, and humiliated in the most crude manner possible,” Azad said of the G23 letter to Sonia Gandhi.
Subsequently, the same coterie unleashed its goondas to physically attack the residence of a former colleague, Kapil Sibal, who incidentally was defending you and your kin in the courts of law for your alleged attacks of omission and commission, he alleged.
“The only crime committed by the 23 senior leaders who wrote that letter out of concern for the party is that they pointed out both the reasons for the weaknesses in the party and the remedies thereof. Unfortunately, instead of taking those views on board in a constructive and cooperative manner, we were abused, humiliated, insulted and vilified in a specially summoned meeting of the extended CWC meeting,” 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,” the veteran leader, who was the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha for seven years, said.
He also said that unfortunately, at the national level, we (Congress) have conceded the political space available to us to the BJP and at the state level, space was given to the 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.
Dubbing the Congress organisational polls to elect a new party chief a farce and a sham, Azad said, “The entire organisational election process is a farce and a sham.”
He said that for all the reasons mentioned above, Congress has “lost” both the will and the ability under the tutelage of the coterie that runs the party to fight for what is right for India. “In fact, before starting the Bharat Jodo Yatra, the leadership should have undertaken a Congress Jodo exercise across the country,” Azad added.
Earlier this week, another veteran leader, Anand Sharma, resigned as the chairperson of the Steering Committee for Himachal Pradesh. Even Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill joined the bandwagon to quit the party on Wednesday.
In the last three years, several leaders like Jyotiraditya Scindia, Jitin Prasad, RPN Singh, Sushmita Deb and others have quit the party.