Azad’s jab at Rahul has merit, but then look who’s talking

“A new group of inexperienced dupes has begun to run the affairs of the party,” says Azad with a Freudian slip – his corny suggests that the old family has not been properly restored.

Ghulam Nabi Azad may launch his outfit in J&K ahead of the Assembly elections for the reconstituted Union Territory early next year.

Finally, after two years of long spells of calculated silence followed by staccato outbursts, Ghulam Nabi Azad left the Congress on Friday (August 26). A mainstay of the now-defunct G-23 — the group of 23 leaders who red-flagged the need for effective leadership and reform in Congress in August 2020 — was on the warpath against the Freedom Party. high command in the last two years.

The push for Azad’s agitation from the Congress was swift and harsh. “The DNA of the GNA has been changed,” said Jairam Ramesh, head of the Congress’s communications department.

“It is very unfortunate that this (Azad’s resignation) happened when Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and the entire Congress party organization was engaged in confrontation, fight and struggle with the BJP across the country. mehangai (The increase in prices), free on the issues of (unemployment) and polarization,” Ramesh said. He added that the party is planning a mass rally against the price hike at Delhi’s Ramlila ground on September 4 and a 3,570 km Kanyakumari march to the Kashmir Bharat Jodo Yatra that will begin on September 7.

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Last week was Azad resigned from the post of chairman hours after the party’s election campaign committee for Jammu and Kashmir was given the mandate. Although he was reluctant to speak publicly about the decision, those close to him claimed that he had decided to sever ties with the Congress, where he had been a leading member for five decades.

Time to resign

Therefore, Azad’s departure from the party should not surprise anyone. It is interesting that the party veteran sent his resignation letter to Sonya two days after he left the country for a medical examination abroad. Incidentally, when G-23 sent her the explosive letter in August 2020, Sonia was admitted to Delhi’s Sir Ganga Ram Hospital for treatment.

Azad is likely to launch his outfit in J&K ahead of the Assembly elections for the reconstituted Union Territory early next year. It is also likely that several of Azad’s supporters in J&K, who are still part of the Congress, may leave the party and join him in the coming days. Azad’s G-23 partner Anand Sharma, another sullen leader who recently abdicated responsibilities within the party for the upcoming elections in his home state of Himachal Pradesh, may also resign from the Congress soon.

There is no denying that Azad’s speech is bad optics for the crisis-ridden and aging Congress. His move has predictably given the BJP and the media a field day to hit back at the Congress with facts ranging from the familiar accusation of the Grand Old Party being relegated to the Nehru-Gandhi trickster club to criticism of Rahul Gandhi’s humiliation of party seniors. and the general slide of the country’s main Opposition party for more than eight years now.

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Azad’s parting shot, five-page resignation letter provided enough cannon fodder for such attacks. To be fair to Azad, there is undeniable value in criticizing Congress interim president Sonia and de facto party chief Rahul’s handling of their organisation’s affairs.

But then, if justice is the yardstick by which Azad’s criticism of the Congress is measured, the 73-year-old Jammu leader also has a lot to answer for.

Skills and lack thereof

Azad, as he is well known in political circles, was one of the so-called Congress veterans who rose to prominence within the Grand Old Party – and, by extension, in Indian politics – not because they had a mass base. leaders combined with brilliant administrative or organizational skills. Rather, many of these leaders rose through lack of such skills and almost entirely out of fulfillment of the common need of various members of the Gandhi family—after Indira Gandhi—to be surrounded by liars at various times in the history of the Congress. and cheerleaders.

Anand Sharma, who is likely to follow Azad’s path, belongs to the same group of Congress veterans with no base, and the same is true of a number of leaders of the original G-23 constituents, most of whom are either rootless prodigies or promoted lateral entrants. through the ranks due to their closeness to the Gandhis at some point in time. The only major difference between Azad’s and Sharma’s credentials is that the former won at least two direct elections to the Lok Sabha, albeit from the “safe seat” of Washim in Maharashtra during the Congress in 1980 and 1984, though not from his home state. Although the latter has conscientiously avoided any electoral contest and has no constituencies to choose from even in his home state of Himachal Pradesh.

However, both Azad and Sharma remained prominent members of the Congress for decades, holding a number of key organizational posts, including a seat on the high table of the Congress Working Committee. Both served several terms in various ministries and in the Rajya Sabha at the Center under Congress-led governments, with Azad serving as Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha for seven years before the Congress finally refused to give him another term.

Political irrelevance

Even a cursory glance at Azad’s five-page resignation letter will make it clear that his departure from the Grand Old Party stemmed from a belated realization of its growing political irrelevance rather than concern for the revival and revival of the Congress. The first two pages of his resignation letter are actually nothing more than a list of all the positions he has held within the party since the time the late Sanjay Gandhi hand-picked him as president of the J&K Youth Congress, 1975-76.

By Azad’s own admission, from 1975 till date, the Congress has given him many organizational posts – President of the Indian Youth Congress, General Secretary of the AICC under every party president since the mid-1980s, continuously a member of the CWC for four decades, in-charge positions. of various states and union territories for 35 years. It also lists how he served as a Union minister in every Congress-led government between 1982 and 2014 before being appointed Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha.

The next three pages of her letter are essentially a tirade against Rahul – a dossier of grievances old and new, imagined and real – and an accusation that Sonia is a “nominal figure” of the Congress and “when important decisions are taken by Rahul”. Gandhi, or rather his bodyguards and PAs”. Azad rightly points out Rahul’s “immaturity” when he tore up a controversial ordinance during a press conference days after the latter was passed after consultations by the Union Cabinet in that infamous episode of the UPA era. Azad says that Rahul’s “childish behavior has completely tarnished the reputation of the Indian Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) and his government”.

The former party leader is also trolling Rahul for resigning as Congress president in 2019 after “insulting all senior party functionaries”. He then called the process of electing a new Congress president, scheduled for October instead of September, a “fraud and fraud” and accused the leadership of supporting “credibles” to take over the reins of the party. Azad predicts that the “chosen person” to lead the Congress after the party’s presidential election is over will be “nothing but a puppet on a string”.

Deliberately deceptive

Much of what Azad has said about Rahul’s leadership as party president between 2017 and 2019 and a backseat driver since then is not entirely untrue. The problem is that the veteran leader’s acerbic tirade is deliberately misleading on at least three counts.

First, Azad tries to project that the Congress’s organizational slide began after Rahul was inducted by the party as vice-president in 2013, and that the Congress had none of its current problems until then. Second, he tries to give the impression that the party’s organizational structure and the process of appointments to it only started to breed sycophants after Rahul’s entry. Third, Azad offers no explanation as to why he or his fellow ministers in the UPA government, such as Sharma and Manish Tewari, chose to acquiesce when Rahul “undermines the authority of the Prime Minister and Government of India”. ‘.

The Congress’s organizational drift, the process of giving up internal elections and rewarding a group of people with plum party positions, and the shrinking of its electoral footprint began decades before Rahul’s foray into active politics. Indeed, in the 14 years between Sonia’s first elevation to the post of Congress president in 1998 and Rahul’s elevation to the post of Congress vice-president in 2013, Azad was among the most vocal voters in the party’s process of filling key organizational posts through candidates rather than internally. elections. When Rahul tore up this decree, Azad did not point out any discrepancy.

After the debacle in 2014, he led various states that went to Free elections in the post-Congress ouster period, where the Congress was eventually defeated. So while his resignation letter today lists the number of elections the party has lost since 2014, there is no explanation as to why he, who is now a proponent of collective leadership, never resigned out of collective responsibility.

A person who benefits from sycophancy

In truth, Azad was a major beneficiary of the culture of hypocrisy that Indira established in the 1970s with her son Sanjay and continued to grow under Rajiv Gandhi, PV Narsimha Rao, Sitaram Kesari and Sonia. The only difference was that during this period Azad was growing in power and stature within the party as he successfully aligned himself with whichever member of Gandhi was fighting at the time or even Rao and Kesari for a while.

In his resignation letter, Azad says that since Rahul’s elevation as party president in 2013 and in the years since then, all senior and experienced leaders have been sidelined. He goes on to say that “a new group of inexperienced scoundrels has started running the affairs of the party.” It can only be called a Freudian slip because his crow seems to think that the old tribe of seasoned sycophants like himself needed to be properly rehabilitated before the new group.

There is a lesson in Azad’s speech that the Congress may want to learn, despite the fact that the party’s long history has proven that it will not revive or strengthen the party and its leadership, whether old or new impostors.

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