‘Rebel’ GN Azad Meets Sonia Gandhi, Says “Discussed Fighting Unitedly”

Ghulam Nabi Azad (right) met Sonia Gandhi at her residence (File)

New Delhi:

Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Friday met party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, a day after the core group of its ‘G-23’ dissidents, held a third round of discussions following the massive election drubbing.

“The meeting with Sonia Gandhi was good. All members of the Congress party decided unanimously that she should continue as the president, we just had some suggestions that were shared,” Mr Azad said, playing down talk of disillusionment within the party.

“Working Committee was asked for suggestions on the reasons for defeat in five states. The discussion was held to fight unitedly in the forthcoming assembly elections… There was no question on leadership,” he added.

Mr Azad and other dissidents have held a series of meetings since Wednesday, upset with the stance of the Gandhi-family loyalists at Sunday’s meeting of the party’s highest decision-making body, the Congress Working Committee. The loyalists insist on reaffirming the leadership of the Gandhis despite serial losses.

At the last CWC meet, party leaders had turned down Sonia Gandhi’s offer to step down from all posts with her children Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

The G-23 has been persistently seeking a restructuring of the organisation since it first wrote to Sonia Gandhi in 2020 after a string of electoral losses. The Congress lost Punjab and has been practically wiped out in Uttar Pradesh and the other states.

The group had, in a statement on Wednesday, said the “only way forward for the Congress was to adopt a model of inclusive and collective leadership and decision making at all levels.” They insisted they want to strengthen the Congress and “not undermine it in any way.”

Sonia Gandhi’s meeting was seen as part of a wider effort by the family to reach out to the G-23.

On Thursday, Rahul Gandhi had reached out to former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who had attended the G-23 meet on Wednesday. During the meeting, Mr Hooda sought clarity over who is making the decisions in the party, sources said. Stressing on the need to make decisions collectively, Mr Hooda told Rahul Gandhi that the leaders would often come to know about party decisions from the newspapers.

Mr Hooda also said that the G-23 leaders have not done any “anti-party activities” adding that the meeting of the faction was held after informing Sonia Gandhi.

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