Azad is part of group of senior Congress leaders who have been raising questions over the party’s leadership after a series of poor performances in the recent elections. He was also one of the 23 signatories of the letter sent to Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi demanding a re-haul and reform within the party.
Reflecting on the results of the recent Bihar elections and state bypolls, Azad said that party won’t win any polls till the time the “5-star culture” ends.
“Polls aren’t won by 5-star culture. Problem with leaders today is if they get a party ticket, they first book a 5-star hotel. They won’t go if there’s a rough road. Till the time 5-star culture is given up, one can’t win elections,” Azad told news agency ANI.
He said that he doesn’t blame the leadership for the recent losses but suggested that a big reason behind the poll debacle is the fact that party workers have lost the connection on the ground.
“We all are worried about losses, especially about Bihar and bypoll results. I don’t blame the leadership for the loss. Our people have lost the connection on the ground. One should be in love with their party,” he said.
Criticising the functioning of the party, Azad said in the absence of elections, “anyone gets any post in the Congress”.
“Till the time office bearers are appointed, they won’t go. But if all office bearers are elected, then they will understand their responsibility. Right now, anyone gets any post in the party,” he said.
Azad further stressed on the need to change the functioning at every level, saying that the leadership needs to give a programme to party workers and introduce accountability within the ranks.
Speaking about the original demands of the G23, Azad said that elections for key party posts, including that of full-time president, must be held in due time if the Congress has to revive itself.
“There’s no change in our demands. They’ve (Gandhis) agreed to most of our demands. Our leadership should hold elections if they want to become a national alternative and revive the party,” he said.
The senior leader played down talks of rebellion with the Congress, saying that the party leaders are voicing dissent only because they seek reforms.
“There is no rebellion in Congres party. Rebellion means replacing someone. There is no other candidate for the post of party president. This is not a rebellion. This is for reforms,” he said.
Azad also warned against the “culture of sycophancy” within political parties, saying that it is the biggest reason behind the downfall of a party.
“We should stay away from this culture at all levels. Politics is a penance. Shame on those who join politics for enjoyment and money,” he said.
Earlier today, Congress MP Kapil Sibal said the party had ceased to be an effective opposition party, with no efforts made to strengthen the organisation.
In a TV interview, he said Congress was without a party president for over one and half year since Rahul Gandhi announced that he was not interested in being the party chief. “How can a party function without a leader for one and half years … Congress workers don’t know where to go,” he said.
Meanwhile, senior party leader Salman Khurshid today said there is no leadership crisis in the party and an all-round support for Sonia and Rahul Gandhi is “apparent to anyone who is not blind”.
Khurshid, who is among the leaders considered close to the Gandhi family, also said there are enough forums in the Congress for airing views and doing so outside the party “hurts” it.
(With inputs from agencies)