Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday lauded Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad for praising the conduct of elections in Jammu and Kashmir and took a swipe at his party's leadership, saying he hoped it will take Azad's remarks in the right spirit and not do something to the contrary by mistaking them as "advice of G-23".
His reference was to the internal rift in the opposition Congress and the group of 23 leaders (G-23) who had written to party chief Sonia Gandhi demanding an organisational overhaul, including elections to party posts and a full-time and active president.
Azad, the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, was among the letter writers who had triggered a storm in the Congress with their step and had drawn a sharp reaction from Gandhi loyalists.
"Ghulam Nabi ji has praised the elections for panchayats, BDCs (block development councils) and DDC (district development councils) held recently in Jammu and Kashmir and I am grateful to him for doing so.
"But I also fear on this praise showered on me. I am confident that people in your party will take this in the right spirit and not mistake it as the advice of 'G-23' to do something opposite," the prime minister said while replying to the debate on the motion of thanks on the President's address.
He said he has heard Azad, who is very polite and soft-spoken and has never used a foul word that could hurt anyone. He said that has been his specialty and "I feel all Parliamentarians need to learn that from him. I respect him a lot".
"He praised the recent elections that have taken place in Jammu and Kashmir. He said that Jammu and Kashmir is very dear to him, just as it is for every Indian who keeps Jammu and Kashmir very close to heart. Our effort is to make Jammu and Kashmir 'aatmanirbhar' (self-sufficient)," Modi said.
Before Azad, the prime minister singled out another Congress leader Partap Singh Bajwa.
"Bajwa sahab from Congress was also speaking. He was speaking in such detail that I thought he will talk about the Emergency (period) soon as he was just one step away from it. But he did not go there. The Congress disappoints this country a lot, you did that too," Modi said.
The prime minister's reply lasted for over an hour, after a 15-hour discussion dominated by the farmers' agitation and the farm laws.
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