Can promote ‘Rebel’ in G-23, against Rahul Gandhi as Congress President

This is not the first time that Ghulam Nabi Azad wore saffron turban while living in Jammu. As the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, he wore it every time he visited the Hindu-dominated Jammu. But on Saturday, when not only Azad but seven others wore it and talked about the state of Congress, it made a powerful statement; The saffron in particular is also associated with the BJP.

It is not that the G-23, or the G-8 as they were that day, are even thinking of crossing the BJP. He made it clear that he was with the Congress but the current state of the party was unacceptable to him.

The Congress officially reacted to the meeting in Jammu by appealing to the G-23 that they were senior members of the party and instead should campaign in the states in the elections. But a member of the G-23 told “Were we also involved in the electoral strategy? Have they asked us to promote? We have been abandoned.”

Now what will happen next? Jammu was clearly not the last stop. Similar meetings are also held in other states. Next might be Himachal Pradesh, where, interestingly, Anand Sharma comes.

Sharma thanked him. The man, who has been a loyal person of a staunch Gandhi family and who was once in Gandhi’s eyes and ears, is now out in the cold. He implies that he has a year to go to the Rajya Sabha, but he was ignored for the post of Leader of the Opposition, which went to Mallikarjun Kharge, Rahul Gandhi’s loyalist. A source close to Sharma said: “It would be unacceptable for him to listen to Kharge’s orders.” Sharma is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha.

After Himachal Pradesh, other states that will have similar meetings are Haryana, Punjab, UP and Delhi. But it does not stop here. G-23 members are reducing the possibility of fielding candidates for the June congressional primary elections. If Rahul Gandhi is a candidate, it is clear that he will have no problem, but a “rebel” standing against him will just be the reason for the mess.

The G-23 has been cautioned to sieve its discontent by pitching for a strong Congress. In Jammu, most of the leaders said so. The letter he wrote to Sonia Gandhi in August made it clear that this was a party that was leaderless and ruthless. Even now, they ask who is deciding for the party in the absence of a full-time president as Sonia Gandhi is no longer involved in day-to-day affairs. The digging is clearly on Rahul Gandhi. And this is where the G-23 is under attack by current Congress leaders who say “they are ungrateful and are now hurting the party in the middle of the election”.

The Congress was stopped in response to the Jammu meeting. It is unlikely to take any action against the dissidents as it would distract from the elections. While the rebels are not talking about separation from the party, they know that it is inevitable. Partition in the Congress is very much on the cards and can be done in time with Rahul Gandhi formally taking over the reins of the party. The ball has just rolled.