Congressional G-23 leaders after meeting on Assembly polls debacle

New Delhi: Leaders of the “Group of 23” in Congress said on Wednesday that the only way forward for the big old party was to adopt a model of collective and inclusive leadership and decision-making at all levels.

In a statement, G-23 leaders, who met at the residence of former Rajya Sabha opposition leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, urged the Congress leadership to engage in talks with like-minded forces. ideas to create a path for a credible alternative to the ruling BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

The G-23 saw other leaders join the dinner meeting at Azad’s residence, which was convened to map out the group’s future strategy and discuss the Congress debacle in the coming Assembly polls to end in five states.

The meeting lasted more than four hours and all the leaders talked about the strategy to adopt.

Sources said Azad also spoke with Congress Speaker Sonia Gandhi and conveyed the grouping’s feelings to her, while assuring her of their support in strengthening the organization.

Azad and Anand Sharma trusted Gandhi’s leadership during the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting on Sunday.

Incidentally, the grouping evaded the question of leadership, after Kapil Sibal said that Gandhi should step aside and pave the way for another leader.

Leaders said they met to deliberate on the disheartening results of recent poll results and the continued exodus of party leaders and workers.

“We believe that the only way forward for the Congress is to adopt a model of collective and inclusive leadership and decision-making at all levels. In order to oppose the BJP, it is necessary to strengthen the Congress party We call on the Congress Party to engage in dialogue with other like-minded forces to create a platform that paves the way for a credible alternative for 2024,” the G-23 joint statement read.

The next steps in this regard will be announced soon, he added. Sources said the group had previously planned a dinner party at Sibal’s residence, but it was changed at the last minute.

Among the leaders who attended the meeting were Sibal, Sharma, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Prithviraj Chavan, Manish Tewari, Shashi Tharoor, Vivek Tankha, Raj Babbar, Akhilesh Prasad Singh and Sandeep Dikshit.

The scope of the G-23 group has expanded this time with other leaders – MP for Patiala Preneet Kaur, former Chief Minister of Gujarat Shankar Singh Vaghela, former Chief Minister of Punjab Rajinder Kaur Bhattal , Former Union Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar, Former Vice President of Rajya Sabha PJ Kurian and Former Haryana Speaker Kuldeep Sharma joined the dinner meeting, in addition to MA Khan.

The group had openly invited other members of Congress to join them at the dinner meeting.

The sources said the meeting was called to brief all G-23 members on the decisions taken at the crucial CWC meeting.

Two prominent members of the G-23 – Azad and Sharma – were due to update other members on developments at the CWC meeting and what they said about the party’s strengthening following its crushing in the polls of the Assembly, they said.

Congress’ performance in these states was poor as it failed to win any of the four BJP-led states – Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur – while it lost Punjab to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP ).

The G-23 group criticized the leadership of Congress. It demanded an organizational overhaul, after its members wrote a joint letter to Gandhi in 2020.

The sources said invitations have also been extended to members of Congress who do not make up the bloc but believe changes are needed, including at the leadership level, to revive the party’s electoral fortunes.

The decision to convene a G-23 meeting came a day after Gandhi called for the resignation of Congress presidents from Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur and Goa.

Sibal, in his latest salvo targeting the Congress leadership, had said that the Gandhis should stand down and give another leader a chance to lead the party, prompting a backlash from Gandhi family loyalists, who accused of speaking the language of Bharatiya Janata. Party (BJP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

The G-23 has, however, weakened over time, with top leader M Veerappa Moily distancing himself from the group, Jitin Prasada joining the BJP and Mukul Wasnik not attending its meetings lately.

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Posted: Thursday March 17th 2022, 07:31 IST

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