Congress didn’t utilise Ghulam Nabi Azad’s experience: Dissenters in Jammu

Kapil Sibal said he and other Congress leaders have gathered at Jammu today to address issues that the party is facing now.

Congress has weakened considerably in the last decade and effort needs to be put in to ensure it has a connect with a new generation of leaders, said some of the ‘Group of 23’ or  ‘G-23 leaders’ of the party at an event in Jammu on Saturday. Last year, the G-23 dissenters had severely criticised the functioning of the party in an open letter to Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi.

At the event titled ‘Shanti Sammelan, aimed at reconnecting with the cadre on the ground, Congress leader Kapil Sibal said he was saddened by the decision to allow party veteran Ghulam Nabi Azad to retire from Parliament and that the Congress could have used his experience better.

“He (Azad) is one such leader who knows the 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 want him to go from Parliament…I can’t understand why Congress is not using his experience,” he said.

“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 Nabi ji is experienced as well as engineer.”

The Congress leader said he and his colleagues have gathered in Jammu to address issues that the party is facing now. “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,” he said.

Sibal recently distanced himself from Rahul Gandhi’s ‘north-south’ remark, saying, “I’m nobody to comment on what he said. He said it and he can explain in what context he said…We must respect electors in the country and not denigrate their wisdom…”

Apart from Azad and Sibal, Manish Tewari, Anand Sharma, Bhupinder Hooda and Raj Babbar were also present on the occasion.

Anand Sharma said that for the first time since the 1950s, Jammu and Kashmir does not have a representative in the Rajya Sabha and it will be “corrected” soon.

Echoing Sibal, he said, “Congress has weakened in the last decade. Our voice is for the betterment of the party. It should be strengthened everywhere once again. New generation should connect (to party). We’ve seen good days of Congress. We don’t want to see it weakening as we become older. We will save the Congress.”

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He continued, “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 added, “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 and the youth movement.”

Meanwhile, Raj Babbar turned around the G-23 nomenclature and said, “People say we are a part of G-23. For me, it’s 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. G-23 want Congress to be strong.”

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