Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal

Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal

Punjab, exits give fuel to G-23: Kapil Sibal, Ghulam Nabi Azad speak up

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Sibal, who was among the 23 leaders who wrote a letter to interim Congress chief Sonia Gandhi last year seeking radical changes in the party, said the Congress should try to remain united in Punjab.

Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal
Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal

The ongoing Punjab crisis and the recent high-profile exits from the Congress prompted its Group of 23 (the group that wrote to Sonia Gandhi demanding sweeping changes in the party structure) to once again express concern over what they called was the continuing drift in the party.

Underlining that the Congress needed to ask itself why leaders were leaving it, senior party leader Kapil Sibal said Wednesday: “In our party, at the moment, there is no president, so we don’t know who is taking these decisions. We know and yet we don’t know.”

Sibal’s press conference followed a letter to Sonia Gandhi by a fellow member of the Group of 23, Ghulam Nabi Azad. Both Azad and Sibal again demanded elections to the post of the party president and a meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC).

Sibal pointed out that those whom the Gandhi family considered close had deserted them, unlike the G-23 leaders who were still with them, though not as “yes-men”. Sources said some of the G-23 leaders had met at Azad’s house Wednesday morning where it was decided that he should write to Gandhi expressing their major concerns.

In the evening, there were protests outside Sibal’s house by Congress workers shouting slogans of “Gaddaron, party chhoro (traitors leave the party)”.

Delhi Congress chief Anil Chaudhary said they were workers from Sibal’s old constituency of Chandni Chowk, adding that while he didn’t agree with Sibal’s remarks, he condemned such protests.

Several other leaders, including Ajay Maken, issued statements criticising Sibal.

At the press conference, Sibal said he was standing with a “very heavy heart” and “I cannot see my party in the situation that it is today. It breaks my heart”. Saying the happenings in Punjab would be to “the advantage to the ISI and Pakistan”, he said the crisis was not the doing of the G-23 leaders. “It is not happening because of us.”


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