'No questions on leadership': Ghulam Nabi Azad after meeting Sonia
Ghulam Nabi Azad, the leader of G-23--the dissident group within Congress--met party president Sonia Gandhi on Friday. The meeting came a day after the G-23 group held a third round of discussions following the party's dismal performance in the recently concluded elections in five states. After meeting Sonia, Azad said that her leadership of the party has not been questioned.
Why does this story matter?
- The G-23 dissident group in Congress has openly asked the party to adopt a model of "collective and inclusive leadership and decision-making at all levels," projecting it as the "only way forward," prompting the Congress leadership to meet with Azad to ease tensions.
- This was Gandhi's family's second meeting with the G-23 leadership. On Thursday, Rahul Gandhi met ex-CM of Haryana Bhupinder Singh Hooda.
What are the G-23 demands?
During the hour-long meeting, Azad is said to have proposed elections to the Congress Working Committee, creating the Central Election Committee an elected body, and resurrecting the defunct Parliamentary Board to ensure collective decision-making. The G-23 has been advocating for organizational restructuring and including a change in leadership since 2020 when it first approached Gandhi about it following a string of electoral defeats.
G-23 now seeks incremental rather than radical leadership change
One of the G-23 leaders, Kapil Sibal, said earlier this week that the Gandhis should step down from leadership roles and give someone else a chance. The group, however, has now taken a more nuanced stance, knowing that the Gandhis have overwhelming support within the party and are therefore are seeking incremental changes. It believes that a maximalist position will gain little support.
What did Ghulam Nabi Azad exactly say?
When asked about Friday's meeting, Azad said, "I will say the discussion was about how to prepare for the forthcoming assembly elections unitedly...how to strengthen the Congress." While responding to Sibal's remark, he said, "When Mrs. Gandhi offered to resign... everyone asked her to continue...we don't have a problem (with the leadership)...but there are some suggestions to better the organization."
G-23 is against Rahul-Priyanka's 'unilateral decisions'
While the majority of the G-23 accept Sonia's leadership, they are reportedly dissatisfied with the party president's willingness to allow Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to make "unilateral decisions." The latest examples are Rahul's appointment of Charanjit Singh Channi as the Congress's chief ministerial face in Punjab and Priyanka's decision to reserve 40% of tickets for women in Uttar Pradesh.
Bhupender Singh Hooda defends Sibal in front of Rahul Gandhi
As per reports, the leadership has dispatched senior leaders to meet the dissenting group to resolve the differences. Meanwhile, amid calls from Gandhi family's supporters for action against Kapil Sibal, who said the Gandhis should step down, Hooda is said to have told Rahul Gandhi that such a move would be unacceptable because the dissident leader had only spoken about strengthening the Congress.