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With Ghulam Nabi Azad's exit casting a shadow on the meeting of the Congress' apex decision-making body, party leaders on Saturday slammed him for "targeted personal vilification" of Rahul Gandhi while the BJP said the veteran leader has raised valid questions.
Azad, who ended his five-decade association with the grand old party on Friday, had accused Rahul Gandhi of demolishing its entire consultative mechanism and also pinned the blame on him for the 2014 electoral debacle.
"He (Azad) held various posts for over 50 years and now, when there is a need for the country and the party to raise people's issues, this was uncalled for," said Pilot.
Asked about Azad's statement blaming Rahul Gandhi's action of tearing up a government ordinance in "full glare" of the media for the loss of the Congress in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Pilot said it was wrong to single out individual.
"All of us in the Congress were associated with and part of the UPA government, including Mr Azad. So singling out a person for the defeat in 2014 would not be right," he said.
Azad, who named Rahul Gandhi in his stinging resignation letter, said a "remote control model" had demolished the institutional integrity of the UPA government and now the Congress party. He said decisions are taken by either Rahul Gandhi or rather worse by his security guards and PAs.
"Ghulam Nabi ji bhai jaan, which PA or security personnel of Rahul ji took the decision to make you the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha? Tell us this too," former chief minister Digvijaya Singh tweeted while condemning Azad's statements.
Indian Youth Congress president B V Srinivas alleged Azad had harmed the state units wherever he was the incharge and questioned why he did not quit the UPA government if he was unhappy with Rahul Gandhi's decisions.
"Azad did not say anything earlier because of his lust for power. He became angry only because he lost the chair," he alleged.
After his resignation on Friday, Azad said he would launch a new party soon and that its first unit would be set up in Jammu and Kashmir. Congress leaders said that his allegations were merely an excuse to leave the party.
"It is one thing to break away from the party due to differences/unhappiness over an issue. But the announcement of forming a new party within an hour of leaving the party shows that the allegations of Ghulam Nabi Azad Saheb are nothing more than an excuse to leave the party," Congress leader Shakeel Ahmad tweeted.
Sources said besides approving the polls schedule, the members of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the party's highest decision-making body, could at their virtual meeting on Sunday also express confidence in the leadership provided by Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi in view of Azad's criticism.
Azad was a member of the G-23 group that had written to Sonia Gandhi seeking an overhaul of the party.
Accusing Azad of conspiring against the Congress, Srinivas said he chose to write to Sonia Gandhi on both occasions when the party president "was unwell".
Sonia Gandhi is abroad for medical checkups and Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra are accompanying her.
The internal situation of the Congress has been clear for many years now. But in the end, Ghulam Nabiji became free, Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, a former Congress leader who joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2020, said.
Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said Azad raised valid points while exiting the Congress which is a "sinking ship".
Speaking to reporters at the Nagpur airport, Fadnavis said people who think the ship cannot be salvaged were leaving it now.
"I think some questions raised by Azad were valid. However, it is their internal matter and I will not comment on it," the senior BJP leader said.
Ghulam Nabi Azad resigned from all positions in the Congress, including its primary membership, saying Rahul Gandhi was "immature" and "childish" and accused the leadership of "foisting a non-serious individual" at the helm of the party.
"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." Azad wrote to Sonia Gandhi
"All senior and experienced leaders were sidelined and the new coterie of inexperienced sycophants started running the affairs of the party," he alleged.
The Congress, dealing with the fallout of a series of high-profile exits, including that of Kapil Sibal and Ashwani Kumar, attempted to deflect the latest blow by alleging that Azad's DNA had been "Modi-fied" and linking his resignation to the end of his Rajya Sabha tenure.
While Azad's close confidant G M Saroori said he is all set to launch a new party from Jammu and Kashmir within a fortnight, the Jammu and Kashmir unit of the Congress said only those who were hibernating for eight years have deserted it and they will meet the same fate as former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh.
"We see Azad's resignation as an attempt to harm the growing popularity of the Congress, especially in Jammu and Kashmir...
"Modi's tearful farewell to the former leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha (in February 2021) was an indication of the recent developments," working president of the Jammu and Kashmir Congress Raman Bhalla told reporters at the party office here.
Saroori said Azad would be coming to Jammu on September 4 to "hold consultations with his well-wishers before the launch of our new party".
(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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First Published: Sat, August 27 2022. 23:55 IST