Ghulam Nabi Azad on dissent in Congress: ‘Not rebellion, this is call for reform’

On fingers being pointed at the Congress top leadership, Ghulam Nabi Azad said: 'I'm giving a clean chit to Gandhis as they can't do much right now due to COVID-19'.

In the aftermath of the recently concluded Bihar Assembly elections, in which Congress put up a dismal performance, party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad stated Sunday that polls aren’t won by ‘5-star culture’. He added that Gandhis, at the helm of the party, should be given a clean chit right now, as ‘due to Covid-19 pandemic they can’t do much’.

In an interview with the news agency ANI, Azad was quoted as saying: “We all are worried about losses, especially about Bihar and by-polls results. I don’t blame the leadership for the loss. Our people have lost the connection on the ground. Polls aren’t worn by 5-star culture. Problem with leaders today is if they get a party ticket, they first book a 5-star hotel. They won’t go if there’s a rough road.”

Azad further told ANI that till the time Congress doesn’t change its way of functioning at every level, things won’t change. “Leadership needs to give a programme to party workers and hold elections for posts,” he was quoted as saying.

On several leaders voicing dissent against the way the Congress is functioning, Azad said: “There is no rebellion in Congres party. Rebellion means replacing someone. There is no other candidate for the post of party president. This is not a rebellion. This is for reforms.”

Azad, however, did not blame the party leadership for the poor electoral performance. “I’m giving a clean chit to Gandhis due to Covid-19 pandemic they can’t do much right now. There’s no change in our demands. They’ve agreed to most of our demands. Our leadership should hold elections if they want to become a national alternative and revive the party,” he said.

“Our party’s structure has collapsed. We need to rebuild our structure and then if any leader is elected in that structure, it will work. But saying that just by changing the leader, we’ll win Bihar, UP, MP etc. is wrong. That will happen once we change the system,” Azad added.

Azad’s remarks came hours after senior leader Salman Khurshid said there was no leadership crisis in the party and an all-round support for Sonia Gandhi and Rahul was “apparent to anyone who is not blind”.

Claiming that there were enough fora in the Congress for airing views, Khurshid told PTI, “The leadership listens to me, I am given an opportunity, they (those criticising in the media) are given an opportunity, where does this thing come from that the leadership is not listening.”

Recently, Congress veteran Kapil Sibal told The Indian Express that people no longer saw the party as an “effective alternative” and said the leadership was not addressing the issues within. The Congress, he said, knows the problems it is facing as well as the answers, but is not willing to recognise them. MPs Vivek Tankha and Karti Chidambaram reiterated what Sibal said.

Azad and Sibal are among the 23 leaders who had in August written to the Congress leadership, with a raft of suggestions on what could change in the way the party is being run.

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