Congress loses a big wicket...Veteran leader Ghulam Nabi Azad quits the party!

Ahead of a major power transition, the Congress party is glared up with the latest developments that had shaken the high command. Veteran Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad (73) on Friday announced that he is quitting the party and relinquishing the primary membership and all the roles with the party. It was indeed a huge loss for the party and the sources say what was brewing for a long time has finally come out from the chaotic camp. 

Ghulam Nabi Azad is an important leader in the coterie of the G23 group that dissented against the leadership of the Gandhis and was advocating for a change. As a veteran politician, Azad has national prominence and held close ties with the leaders of various parties and the exit of such a tall and witty leader is a big blow to Congress and it has also implied that more such dissenters would line up with Azad in the coming months. 

Azad's resignation has come months after senior leader Kapil Sibal left the party and it is noteworthy that the latter was also a part of G23. Azad's sudden announcement has become the talk of the town as it has come two days ahead of the Congress Working Committee meeting in which the election for the next president would be discussed. Azad didn't end up only announcing his resignation, but he also left the blame on Rahul Gandhi. 

In a long resignation letter, Azad praised Sonia Gandhi and blamed Rahul Gandhi for the party's defeat in the 2014 national elections. The veteran leader has slammed Rahul Gandhi for his immaturity and for demolishing the consultative mechanism in the party. Azad noted that after the entry of Rahul Gandhi into politics and particularly after January 2013, when he was appointed Vice President by Sonia Gandhi, the entire consultative mechanism which existed earlier was demolished by him. 

Azad further wrote, "Congress has lost will and ability under the tutelage of the coterie that runs All India Congress Committee (AICC)." In a five-page letter to Sonia Gandhi, Azad took a jibe at Rahul Gandhi's way of working. He cited that before starting a 'Bharat Jodo yatra', the leadership should have undertaken a 'Congress Jodo yatra'. "Unfortunately, the situation in the Congress party has reached such a point of no return that now proxies' are being pepped up to take over the leadership of the party", Azad added. 

He said, "This experiment is doomed to fail because the party has been so comprehensively destroyed that situation has become irretrievable." Terming the party's election process a sham, Azad said, "Unfortunately, at the national level we have conceded the political space available to us to the BJP and state level space to regional parties. This all happened because the leadership in the past 8 years has tried to foist a non-serious individual at the helm of the party." 

He further said, "The entire organizational election process is a farce and a sham. At no place anywhere in the country have elections been held at 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 at 24 Akbar Road. At no place in a booth, block, district or state was an electoral roll published, nominations invited, scrutinized, polling booths set up and elections held. The AICC leadership is squarely responsible for perpetrating a giant fraud on the party to perpetuate its hold on the ruins of what once was a national movement that fought for and attained the Independence of India."

About Rahul Gandhi, Azad wrote, "One of the most glaring examples of this immaturity was the tearing up of a government ordinance in the full glare of the media by Rahul Gandhi...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 noted that Congress has suffered a string of humiliating poll defeats since the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and is now in power in only two states while serving as a minor coalition partner in two others. 

Calling Sonia Gandhi a nominal figurehead, Azad said that she has occupied the post of interim president after Rahul Gandhi stepped down as party chief in a huff over the Congress's abysmal defeat in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. He wrote, "Worse still the 'remote control model' that demolished the institutional integrity of the UPA government now got applied to the Indian National Congress. While you are just a nominal figurehead all the important decisions were being taken by Rahul Gandhi or rather worse his security guards and PAs." 

Commenting about the G23, Azad wrote, "The only crime committed by the 23 senior leaders who wrote that letter out of concern for the party is that they pointed out both the reasons for the weakness in 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 extended CWC." 

Azad started his political career soon after working as the secretary for the Block Congress Committee in Bhalessa in his home state of Jammu and Kashmir in 1973. Two years later, he was nominated as the President of the Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Youth Congress and in 1980, he was appointed as the President of the All-India Youth Congress. Azad was the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir from 2005 to 2008 and then served as the Union Health Minister during the second term of the UPA government. He also served as the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha after the Congress lost the general elections in 2014.