Ghulam Nabi Azad on Friday resigned from the Congress ahead of the Bharat Jodo Yatra and the party’s organisational elections. In a five-page scathing letter to party president Sonia Gandhi, who is abroad with her children for a medical check-up, the 73-year-old leader called the process of organisational elections “a farce and a sham”.
Azad, a member of the G-23 group that sought change in the party, said he and his other colleagues would now persevere outside the formal fold of the Congress to perpetuate the ideals for which they had dedicated their entire lives. As per sources, he will now form his own party in Jammu and Kashmir, where five other leaders have also quit the Congress.
Azad is the latest senior leader to sever his 50-year relationship with the party. Only last week, he had declined to be part of the Congress campaign panel in Jammu and Kashmir, which was announced without consulting him. Other notable high-profile leaders to quit the party are Jyotiraditya Scindia, Amarinder Singh, RPN Singh, Sushmita Dev, Kapil Sibal, Jitin Prasada and Himanta Biswa Sarma.
While Jairam Ramesh hit back at Azad for his exit, saying his DNA has been Modi-fied, party leader Prithviraj Chavan sympathised with him and said he was “marginalised”. Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit, who was a member of the G-23 group, expressed dismay and a “sense of betrayal” over Azad’s resignation and said quitting strengthened the policies, systems and people that made them write the “letter of reform”.
Azad, however, has said that while Sonia is just a nominal figurehead, all important decisions are being taken by Rahul or rather worse “his security guards and PAs”.
Notably, he also mentioned that his “mock funeral procession was taken out in Jammu” on the orders of the coterie that runs the AICC today. “Those who committed this indiscipline were fêted in Delhi by the general secretaries of the AICC and Shri Rahul Gandhi personally,” he wrote in the letter.
The leader’s biggest grudge against the Congress, though, has been that it has “lost both the will and ability under the tutelage of the coterie” running the affairs of the party to fight for what is right for India.
Azad said the Congress had conceded the national political space 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,” he said.
Naming Rahul Gandhi in his letter, he said a “remote control model” had demolished the institutional integrity of the UPA government and is now destroying the Congress.
Under Sonia’s leadership since 2014 and subsequently that of Rahul, the Congress lost two Lok Sabha elections in a “humiliating manner” and 39 of the 49 assembly elections held between 2014 and 2022, Azad wrote.
“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, adding, “All senior and experienced leaders were sidelined and the new coterie of inexperienced sycophants started running the affairs of the party.”
The former leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha also brought up Rahul’s tearing up of a government ordinance in full view of the media during the UPA rule and described it as “one of the most glaring examples of immaturity”.
“This ‘childish’ behaviour completely subverted the authority of the prime minister and the Government of India. This one single action more than anything else contributed significantly to the defeat of the UPA government in 2014,” he said.
“Does the Indian National Congress deserve this in the 75th year of India’s independence is a question that the AICC leadership must ask itself,” he asked.