G-23 meeting held at Azad's residence, Congress names leaders to assess poll debacle
As many as 18 leaders, including Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Kapil Sibal, Manish Tewari, Shashi Tharoor and Sandeep Dixit.
Some senior Congress leaders met at the residence of former Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad in the national capital in the wake of the party's humiliating defeat in the recently concluded Assembly elections in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur.
Issuing a joint statement after the meeting, the leaders (18 of them) said, “We demand Congress to initiate dialogue with like-minded forces to create way for credible alternative for 2024 LS polls.”
The letter, written by the 'Group of 23' or ‘G-23’ leaders, said the only way forward is for the Congress to adopt the model of collective and inclusive leadership and decision-making at all levels. They said the meeting of the Congress leaders was held to deliberate on the demoralising results of the Assembly elections and constant exodus of party workers, adding the next steps in this .
The letter was signed by 18 Congress veterans, including Azad, Manish Tewari, Kapil Sibal, Shashi Tharoor, Shankar Singh Vaghela, Sandeep Dixit, Vivek Tankha and Raj Babbar.
In another development, the Congress assigned a leader for each of the five states to take stock of the post-poll situation. A letter signed by AICC general secretary KC Venugopal said the party was appointing Rajani Patil, Jairam Ramesh, Ajay Maken, Jitendra Singh and Avinash Pandey, to assess the post-poll situation and suggest organisational changes in the recently concluded poll states. A day ago, Gandhi asked state unit presidents of all the five states to resign.
Meanwhile, the G-23 meeting came amid an open war of words among functionaries and loyalists following Sunday’s Congress Working Committee meeting where it was unanimously decided that Sonia Gandhi will continue as the party’s interim chief. The CWC meeting was held in the aftermath of the party’s disastrous performance in the recent Assembly elections.
According to reports, the G-23 leaders had earlier planned a dinner at Kapil Sibal's residence, but it was changed at the last minute.
The grouping had given an open invite to other Congressmen to join them at the dinner meeting.
In the latest round of rifts, Sibal has said the Gandhis should step aside and give some other leader a chance to helm the party, provoking a backlash from Gandhi family loyalists who accused him of speaking the language of the BJP and the RSS.
(With agency inputs)