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Congress ‘getting weaker’, G-23 leaders meet in Jammu to ‘strengthen party’


Senior Congress leaders Kapil Sibal and Anand Sharma on Saturday stated that the G-23 or the group of 23 dissenting leaders are seeing the Congress party “getting weaker” and are raising their voice for the betterment of the party.

“The truth is that we see Congress party getting weak. That is why we have gathered here. We had gathered together earlier too and we have to strengthen the party together,” Sibal said at the ‘Shanti Sammelan’ event here.

Anand Sharma who addressed the ‘Shanti Sammelan’ said that “Congress has weakened in the last decade.”

“Our voice is for the betterment of the party. It should be strengthened everywhere once again. The new generation should connect (to party). We have seen good days of Congress. We do not want to see it weakening as we become older,” he said.

Sibal and Sharma along with former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Raj Babbar and Vivek Tankha are among other Congress leaders who were present at the event organised by former Rajya Sabha MP Ghulam Nabi Azad.

Azad is the senior-most member among the 23 leaders, who had expressed dissent with the functioning of the Congress party and had written a letter to Sonia Gandhi in August last year.

The ‘Shanti Sammelan’ event has been organised days after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s “North-South” remark, which has led to a controversy over the past few days. The event is being held at a time when Rahul Gandhi is campaigning in Tamil Nadu.

Raj Babbar in his address said: “People say ‘G23’, I say Gandhi 23. With the belief, resolve and thinking of Mahatma Gandhi, this nation’s law and Constitution was formed. Congress is standing strongly to take these forward. ‘G23’ want Congress to be strong.”

Sibbal said that the leaders who have gathered in Jammu were saddened after realising that former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad is ” being freed from Parliament” by the Congress party.

“What is the real role of Ghulam Nabi Azad sahab? A person who flies an aircraft is an experienced person. An engineer accompanies him to detect and repair any malfunctioning in the engine. Ghulam Nabiji is experienced as well as an engineer,” he said.

“Ghulam Nabi Azad sahab is one such leader who knows ground reality of Congress in every district of every state. We were saddened when we realised that he is being freed from Parliament. We didn’t him to go from Parliament…I can’t understand why is Congress not using his experience,” he added.

Anand Sharma said: “All of us have covered a very long distance to reach where we are today. Nobody among us has come through the window, all of us have walked through the door. We have come through the students’ movement, the youth movement,” he added.

Sharma also said, “There has never come such an occasion after 1950 when there is no representative of Jammu and Kashmir in the Rajya Sabha. This will be corrected.”

Congress leader Sharma said that the G-23 leaders will strengthen the party.

“I have not given anyone the right to tell me if we are people of Congress or not, nobody has that right. We will build the party, we will strengthen it. We believe in the strength and unity of Congress,” he said.

Meanwhile, Azad said, “I have retired from Rajya Sabha but not retired from politics and I have not retired from Parliament for the first time.”

“Today, after many years, we are not part of Jammu and Kashmir, our identity has been lost. The fight will be continued inside and outside our Parliament to regain the status of statehood. When the elected ministers and chief ministers will not be here, then the present condition of unemployment, roads and schools will continue to remain the same,” he said.

Last year in August, G-23 leaders through a letter to interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi expressed their discontent and urged the top leadership of Congress to bring immediate reforms, including organisational elections from the grass-roots to the Congress Working Committee (CWC) level.

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