'Ironic Congress doesn't need him': Sibal on Azad's Padma Bhushan
Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal on Tuesday took a jibe at his own party after veteran leader Ghulam Nabi Azad was conferred with the Padma Bhushan award. Congratulating Azad, he said it was "ironic how Congress doesn't need his services when the nation recognizes his contributions to public life." President Ram Nath Kovind will bestow the Padma Bhushan on Azad for his contributions.
- The development marks another occasion where the infighting in Congress became evident.
- Both Sibal and Azad were a member of the group of 23 leaders—dubbed "G-23"—that has been critical of the party leadership and called for an organizational overhaul.
- On Monday, the Congress designated Azad as one of its star campaigners for Uttar Pradesh, two months after snubbing him off the disciplinary action committee.
Several Congress leaders took to Twitter to congratulate Azad on the honor. "Warm congratulations to Shri @ghulamnazad on his Padma Bhushan," Shashi Tharoor, another G-23 leader, tweeted, adding, "It is good to be recognized for one's public service even by a government of the other side." Manish Tiwari, also a G-23 leader, called it "well-deserved recognition."
In what looked like an apparent taunt at Azad, senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh referred to communist leader Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's refusal to receive the Padma Bhushan. "Right thing to do. He wants to be Azad, not Ghulam," Ramesh tweeted. Both Azad and Bhattacharjee are Opposition leaders that have been conferred with the country's third-highest civilian honor.
After Ramesh's veiled attack, rumors started doing the rounds that Azad had removed "Congress" from his Twitter bio. However, Azad refuted such rumors, claiming that some people were circulating "mischievous propaganda" to cause confusion. Without mentioning Congress, he tweeted, "Nothing has been removed or added to my Twitter profile. The profile is as it was earlier."
India's first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), late General Bipin Rawat, and former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh Kalyan Singh were named in the Padma Vibhushan awardee list. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Google CEO Sundar Pichai were awarded the Padma Bhushan. Meanwhile, Olympic gold medalist Neeraj Chopra, singer Sonu Nigam, Olympian Pramod Bhagat, and Vandana Kataria were named in the Padma Shri list.