After 50 years in Congress, why Ghulam Nabi sought azadi from party, Rahul Gandhi
Ghulam Nabi Azad chose the day of exit well, and with much thought. He completes 50 years in the Congress. The azadi of Ghulam Nabi leaves his former party in shreds and tied in many knots.
Ghulam Nabi first contested the Lok Sabha polls when Indira Gandhi called him and told him, a Kashmiri, to go to Maharashtra and fight. He could never say no, so he fought and won. Since then, Azad has earned the tag of being staunchest loyalist of the Congress and the Gandhis.
One of the few leaders who ranged from Indira Gandhi to Rajiv Gandhi to Sonia Gandhi, Azad has worked and merged easily into their working style. But the one person he was never comfortable with was Rahul Gandhi.
When asked earlier, Azad had said that it was wrong to assume that he was “uneasy with Rahul and his team because of generational gap and change. There was the same generational change when Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi took charge”.
As the letter explains, Azad and many like him, some, who are part of G-23, said they were feeling left out.
“The only crime committed by the 23 senior leaders …is they pointed out the reasons for the weaknesses of the party and the remedies thereof. Unfortunately, instead of taking those views on board in a constructive and cooperative manner, we were abused, humiliated, insulted and vilified in a specially summoned meeting of the extended CWC meeting, Azad wrote in the letter.
Azad was very upset when CWC discussed the G-23 letter, believed to be the brainchild of Azad, and at that meeting, many like Ambika Sonia said he was speaking the language of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Some used some very hard words and in fact one leader called him a “traitor”.
WHAT AZAD’S EXIT MEANS
It reflects on the state of affairs in the Congress and unease many have with Rahul Gandhi’s style of politics and running the party. Most who have left the party namely Jitin Prasada or Jyotiraditya Scindia, have all had something in common with what Azad wrote in his letter — the inaccessibility of the Gandhis, especially Rahul Gandhi.
“I have been with this party since 1977 and worked for party. Wrong to say I want anything. I resigned from all posts. All I wanted was respect and Rahul Gandhi to stand by me. They humiliated me in meetings. I wished well for the party. Our suggestions were for the good of party,” Azad told News18.
It’s a fact many complain about that it is near impossible to get an appointment with Rahul Gandhi. One has to either wait for days or if they get the time, they are dismissed within minutes. “The entire organization process is a farce and a sham. At no place anywhere in the country, have elections been held for any level of the organization. Handpicked lieutenants of the AICC have been coerced to sign on lists prepared by the coterie that runs the AICC sitting in 24 Akbar Road,” wrote Azad.
An anecdote goes that Jagdambika Pal, when he was with the Congress, had been waiting for a long-promised appointment with Rahul Gandhi. He finally met him in parliament and sat in the car with him. When Rahul Gandhi reached his home, he said bye to Pal, even without exchanging a word. Sonia Gandhi was also not, too, accessible, but she would make it a point to be in touch.
“Unfortunately, the situation in the Congress party has reached such a point of no return that now proxies are being propped up to take over the leadership of the party. This experiment is doomed to fail…The Congress has conceded the political space available to the BJP and state level space to regional parties. This all happened because the leadership in the past eight years has tried to foist a non-serious individual at the helm of the party,” Azad alleged in the letter, without taking the name of Rahul Gandhi.
Azad’s exit could open floodgates to others from G-23 leaving the party as well. Could Anand Sharma be next?
The Congress has expressed regret at the comments of Azad and his personal attack on the Gandhis. The Congress released a video of Rahul Gandhi which shows him saying that those who can’t be involved with the struggle of the Congress at this critical stage have the choice to leave.
The Congress is clearly poised at a generational change. And even if Rahul Gandhi doesn’t become the president, it’s clear he rather than Sonia Gandhi would be the fulcrum of power in the party.
Over time, Rahul Gandhi has been building his group with people who are akin to his ideas. This group is likely to get more powerful and those who left or have spoken out are going to be seen as pariahs or traitors. Rahul Gandhi has had this complaint, which he also expressed during the CWC, in which he resigned, that many did not support him on critical issues.
Many of these were on issues like Rafale, Chowkidar Chor Hai and Pegasus.
Rahul Gandhi and his supporters hope that this “cleansing” or the Kamaraj plan will happen with the old guard leaving on their own.
The challenge for the Congress and Gandhis is now to win polls to tell G-23 members that “we did it”.