Ghulam Nabi Azad, who quit the Congress on Friday, today met with three leaders of the party who were part of the “G-23” or group of dissenters – Anand Sharma, Prithviraj Chavan and Bhupinder Hooda.
The leaders visited Mr Azad at his home in Delhi and asked him “first hand” why he quit without consulting them and why he did so even after Sonia Gandhi announced internal elections for a new Congress president, according to former Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan.
Mr Azad claimed his position had become untenable because of “palace intrigue” against him by a section of the Congress, according to Mr Chavan.
Mr Chavan welcomed the party elections and also the Gandhis’ refusal to run for president. “Elections should be free and fair,” he said.
Mr Azad quit his party of five decades on Friday, slamming Rahul Gandhi in a five-letter resignation letter to Sonia Gandhi. He accused Rahul Gandhi of “childish behaviour and immaturity” and blamed him for the Congress’s decline and election defeats.
He exited the party weeks before the October 17 election for a new Congress president.
Anand Sharma expressed shock and said the development would “pain all Congressmen”. “It’s a serious development and will pain all Congressmen. I’m personally shocked. This situation was entirely avoidable. We were hopeful that there would be serious introspection but unfortunately, that process was subverted,” Mr Sharma said, shortly after Mr Azad’s exit was announced.
Mr Azad, 73, had led the “G-23” or 23 dissenters who wrote to Sonia Gandhi in 2020 urging a complete overhaul of the Congress and “clear, full-time and visible leadership”.
The “rebel” group, which included leaders like Shashi Tharoor, Manish Tewari and Mukul Wasnik, was very vocal in demanding sweeping organizational changes in the Congress to arrest its leadership drift.
Another prominent member of the group, Kapil Sibal, left the party in May.
Mr Azad has said he will launch a party in Jammu and Kashmir. The announcement has triggered an exodus in the Jammu and Kashmir Congress.
Some 64 senior Congress leaders, including former Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand, quit today in support of Mr Azad.