Leader of Congress’ dissident group G-23
Ghulam Nabi Azad is the leader of G-23 of Congress. This is a group of disgruntled Congress leaders. The group is demanding a change in the Congress leadership style and strategy. Azad has been lamenting that dissent and lapses in the conduct of the party are being seen by the leadership as a sort of rebellion these days. He says that this was not the case during the time of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. Recently, Azad had said in an interview to a TV channel, ‘No one can say what will happen next in politics. Like no one knows when he will die. No one can predict what will happen next in politics, but I have no intention of forming a party.
Statement on 370 and speculation of rebellion against Congress
Ghulam Nabi Azad’s statement had intensified speculation of rebellion in the Congress. In December 2021, at a public meeting in Poonch, Jammu and Kashmir, he said, ‘Congress does not see more than 300 seats coming in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Some people are making claims, but I don’t see it happening. In fact, Azad had said a great deal in gestures. He was speaking on Article 370 and 35A removed by the BJP government on 5 August 2019. Azad said, ‘Some people are talking about reinstating Article 370, but for this the Congress should get more than 300 seats. We do not see this happening in the next Lok Sabha elections.
When Azad said – should be learned from the PM
In a program last year, Ghulam Nabi Azad had said that people should learn from Narendra Modi. He became the Prime Minister of the country but has not forgotten his roots. He proudly calls himself a chaiwala. I have political differences with him but PM is a grassroots person. People have not forgotten PM Modi’s farewell speech at the end of Ghulam Nabi Azad’s term from Rajya Sabha in February last year. Prime Minister Narendra Modi became very emotional on the farewell of Ghulam Nabi Azad, who had spent nearly three decades in Parliament. PM Modi remembered the moments spent with Azad with a tight throat and at one point cried.
PM told an emotional story in Parliament
PM Modi, while being the Chief Minister of Gujarat himself, had also told an anecdote related to Azad in Parliament. Modi said, ‘Once the passengers of Gujarat were attacked by terrorists. Eight people were killed. First of all I got a call from Ghulam Nabi Ji. And that phone… was not just for giving information. His tears were not stopping. On phone at that time Pranab Mukherjee sahib was the defense minister… I called sahib if a force plane is found to bring the dead body. It was late at night. Pranab Mukherjee said that you do not worry. But in the night again a call came from Ghulam Nabi ji. He was at the airport. After this the PM muttered, pointing towards Azad and said, ‘He called me.. Like worry about your family member, so worry.’
When Modi liked Ghulam Nabi’s suggestion
While narrating another anecdote of intimate relationship with Ghulam Nabi, Modi had said, ‘I was doing a floor leaders meeting, then the same day Ghulam Nabi’s call came. Modiji it is fine, you do it but you do one thing. Must call a meeting of all party leaders. I liked that he suggested me to sit with all the party presidents and I did that meeting too. This type of contact and its root cause is that you have had experience on both sides. 28 years in office… That in itself is a big deal.’
‘Like a family under one roof’…and Modi admired
While praising Azad in Parliament, PM Modi said, ‘It was many years ago. I had come here for some work in the House. Was not in electoral politics then. Me and Ghulam Nabi Azad ji were chatting in the same lobby. Journalists were constantly watching how these two could be amalgamated. We were talking happily. As soon as we left, journalists surrounded us. Ghulam Nabi ji gave a very good answer and it is going to be very useful for us. He said brother, look… you see us fighting in newspapers… in TV media, but in reality there is no atmosphere of a family like ours under this roof.
Congress has made star campaigner in UP elections
Congress has included Ghulam Nabi Azad in the list of star campaigners of the party in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. In October last year, Azad had written to Sonia Gandhi demanding a meeting of the Congress Working Committee. Another G-23 member Kapil Sibal had then said that no one knows who is taking decisions in the party in the absence of a full-time president. Sibal had also said that the dissident faction would continue to raise G-23 issues. After this, the CWC meeting was called on 16 October 2021. On the other hand, Ghulam Nabi Azad had made it clear that he was retiring from the Rajya Sabha and not from politics. Jammu and Kashmir is also on the verge of elections. In such a situation, all eyes will be on what will be the next step of Ghulam Nabi Azad.