Congres Dilemma: Crisis deepens in Punjab, Ghulam Nabi demands CWC meeting

New Delhi: The crisis in the Congress party does not seem to be over. On one hand, the party is battling to stabilize the Punjab unit and prepare for the upcoming elections. On the other hand, the G23 leaders launched a new campaign on Wednesday. Party veteran Ghulam Nabi Azad has written to interim president Sonia Gandhi demanding a meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) to discuss the situation in Punjab and Goa as well as the “mass exodus” in the organisation.

Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal also called for “open dialogue” and introspection, questioning the lack of clarity in the decision-making process.

Sibal, a key participant in G23 or the group, which wrote to Sonia in 2019 demanding sweeping changes, reminded the party, “We are G23 but not ‘Ji Huzoor 23’.”

“We don’t have a president. So, who is making the decision? We all know and still don’t know. We want the CWC meeting to be held for talks.” Another UPA minister Manish Tewari publicly said the situation in Punjab was “wrongly handled” and the state needed “stability”. On Tuesday, Navjot Singh Sidhu, who was backed by both Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to the post of PCC chief, resigned from his post just two months later.

According to party functionaries, Ghulam Nabi Azad wrote to Sonia Gandhi on behalf of G23 asking her to convene a meeting of the CWC as “development in Punjab and Goa” is disappointing in view of the electoral prospects. He suggested that the CWC should be called to look into the issue of mass exodus from the party. A senior Congress leader said the CWC would be called soon and all issues would be discussed.

This group of 23 senior leaders had written to Sonia Gandhi in 2019 demanding a comprehensive change in the organization after the party’s dismal performance in the elections.

Sibal announced that he would not quit the party, but took a dig at Rahul, saying, “People close to him have left him. But those who are not considered close are with him,” in an indirect reference to the exit of Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sushmita Dev and Jitin Prasada—all considered close to Rahul.

Tiwari also posted on a micro-blogging site to vent his disappointment. He wrote, “I will be dishonest if I say that the situation was not handled completely wrong. Suffice it to say that everything Captain Amarinder had said has come true. What Punjab needed at this time was stability and unfortunately those in charge of the state had no idea about it.

Sibal promised loyalty and said he “condemns” those who quit the Congress. But we also need to ask ourselves what our faults may be.

The former Union minister argued that the uncertainty in Punjab would be an “advantage” for Pakistan and its spy agency ISI. He said, “We know the history of Punjab. The Congress party should ensure that they remain united. If there is a problem, there should be talks and the organizational structure should be strengthened.

He quoted Sonia Gandhi to say, ‘Democracy cannot function with 20 men sitting at the centre’, suggesting an inclusive approach and greater participation for seniors in the decision-making process.

(with agency input)

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