G-23 restless about being left out from consultation process

Azad’s retirement from RS, bypassing Anand Sharma for post of Leader of the Opposition are among sore points

Published - February 14, 2021 08:20 pm IST - New Delhi

Congress leaders Anand Sharma with Ghulam Nabi Azad. File

Congress leaders Anand Sharma with Ghulam Nabi Azad. File

As the Congress party gets into election mode for the next round of Assembly polls in crucial States like Assam, Kerala, Bengal and Tamil Nadu, there is growing restlessness among a section of the group of 23 (G-23) dissenters for “being excluded from consultation process”.

Some members of G-23, or those leaders who had written to party president Sonia Gandhi last August to seek a revamp of the party, have been given responsibility in the election-bound States — Mukul Wasnik has been made an observer for Assam and M. Veerappa Moily for Tamil Nadu.

Another prominent leader, Shashi Tharoor, has been given the key responsibility of taking feedback for a people’s manifesto in Kerala.

Yet, some of the leaders insist that the “sense of drift” continues and decisions like appointing district congress committee (DCCs) and PCC chiefs are still ‘dictated’ by Delhi.

They cite the appointment of the office-bearers of the Maharashtra PCC as an ‘example’.

Ghulam Nabi Azad’s retirement from the Rajya Sabha and bypassing Anand Sharma, current Deputy Leader in the Upper House, for the post of the Leader of the Opposition (LoP) are also sore points.

Though there is some talk of bringing back Mr. Azad to the Rajya Sabha from Kerala, a proposal that has divided the State unit, key G-23 members allege that it was not done earlier only to ensure that Mallikarjun Kharge replaces Mr. Azad as the Leader of the Opposition.

“There will certainly be a fall out as we think the leadership has violated the spirit of the understanding,” a key member of G-23 told The Hindu on Sunday.

Not only did Prime Minister Narendra Modi refer to G-23 during his reply to the Motion of Thanks debate, the party’s internal differences with regard to the parliamentary strategy were clearly visible.

While Mr. Azad-led Opposition agreed to the government proposal of clubbing the farm law discussions with the debate quickly, in the Lok Sabha, where former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi took the lead in strategising, the party disrupted proceedings for almost a week.

The G-23 leaders claimed that whether it is the strategy on the farm laws or the crucial issues like disengagement with China, “there has not been adequate consultative process”.

“Arbitrary decisions continue to be taken and it will surely have a ripple effect,” he said, indicating fresh moves from the G-23 after the Assembly elections.

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