‘Ever since G23 letter was written...’: Ghulam Nabi Azad hits back at Congress
Ghulam Nabi Azad said PM Narendra Modi wasn’t crying over his exit from the Rajya Sabha during his February 2021 speech but an incident in which a grenade was lobbed into a bus carrying tourists from Gujarat in May 2006
The Congress party has a weak foundation that can collapse any time, veteran leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said on Monday in a stinging rebuttal to those who linked his decision to exit the party to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s emotional speech at his farewell in the Rajya Sabha in February last year.
“Modi is an excuse, as they have had an issue with me ever since the G23 letter was written. They never wanted anyone to write to them, question them,” the 73-year-old politician told reporters in Delhi, referring to the letter written by 23 Congress leaders to party chief Sonia Gandhi in 2020, demanding internal reforms.
ALSO READ | Election for Cong chief set to be held on Oct 17
Soon after Azad put out his resignation letter on Friday, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said he wasn’t surprised at the Jammu and Kashmir leader’s move and had expected it after Modi cried during the retirement of Azad from the Rajya Sabha (in February 2021). “That day the whole episode was over for us. I understood...it was clear he (Azad) has fallen into the trap of Modi ji”.
Azad countered Chowdhury, saying Modi didn’t tear up over his exit from the Rajya Sabha, but over an incident in which a grenade was lobbed into a bus carrying tourists from Gujarat in May 2006. Four people died and many others were injured.
Azad underlined how his perception of Modi changed after a conversation in the aftermath of the attack. Azad was then the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir and Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat.
“I used to think PM Modi is a crude man…that he does not have children, so maybe, he doesn’t care. But he showed humanity,” Azad said, referring to their conversation after the 2006 terror ambush.
“People in Congress are so ignorant that they are spreading one-sided context of that speech, but failed to utter a word on Rahul Gandhi hugging Modi inside Parliament,” he added.
Azad also renewed his attacks on Rahul Gandhi, whom he saw as embodying the problems plaguing the Congress in his five-page resignation letter. Azad said Rahul Gandhi wasn’t interested in becoming a successful leader. “I give my best wishes to the Congress... but the party needs medicines more than wishes,” he said, warning that the party’s foundation “is weak” and it “can fall any time.”
Asked about whispers that he could join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Azad, who is expected to float a political party over the next few weeks, said: “See, the Congress has illiterate people. The BJP cannot benefit from my vote base, and vice versa… People who understand J&K politics know this well.”
In Jammu and Kashmir, Azad said people in the Congress were so frustrated with the existing setup that they are ready to move to any alternative “no matter how small”.
“Three sitting MLAs left Congress in last one year, of which two were cabinet ministers. 90% of district presidents left the party. Only our group was left,” Azad said.
Responding to Azad’s comments, Congress parliamentarian Jairam Ramesh alleged that the former Rajya Sabha MP had been tasked to slander the grand old party.
“After such a long career, courtesy entirely of the party, he’s been tasked to slander, by giving interviews indiscriminately, Mr Azad diminishes himself further. What’s he afraid of that he’s justifying his treachery every minute? He can be easily exposed but why stoop to his level?” he said in a tweet.
J&K Pradesh Congress Committee president Vikar Rasool Wani also slammed Azad, said an individual’s exit won’t be the end for the party.
“There were a few people who were Azad’s sycophants in J&K who left Congress,” he said. “Now we can work towards making this party stronger, as it used to be.”