The pass to Congress’s first family, however, seemed more a comment on their limitations as the leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha said the leadership was not receiving the right feedback. “If the king does not take the correct decision, his minister points it out, warns him that if he does not do it a particular way, he will fail or can even die. That is supporter, not sycophant,” he said in a fairly direct swipe at functionaries considered close to Rahul Gandhi.
Azad’s comments, the first after Congress’s poor show in the Bihar assembly polls and bypolls in other states and soon after constitution of three party panels that sought to accommodate some of the G-23, indicate that the rumblings in the party are likely to continue and the dissenters do not intend to fall in line. In fact, they might have been emboldened by the setbacks which they say reflect the validity of their arguments.
Azad said there was no change in the demand for election at every level of the organisation which had “collapsed and needs to be rebuilt”. He said a five-star culture had taken root in the party which was the source of all problems. In an interview to ANI, Azad called the dissidents’ demand as “reforms and not rebellion” and hinted that party leaders disagreeing with them were “sycophants”.
He said Congress was at its lowest ebb in 72 years and underlined that it didn’t have the post of leader of opposition in Lok Sabha for two consecutive terms.
The strong words suggest there will be no let-up in the rebellion that has roiled Congress since August when the 23 senior leaders shot off a missive to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi complaining of drift in the organisation and absentee leadership, and laid out a charter of demands to “revive the party”.
Doubling down, Azad said, “There is no rebellion in Congress, we are looking for reform. Rebellion means ‘remove him and put me there’. There is no candidate for party president. Rebellion is when a minister takes out the army and attacks the king, either removes him or kills him. What we are doing is not rebellion, it is reform.”
He said the leadership had agreed to the demand for election to the post of president and to the CWC. He added that elections to the posts of state, district and bloc presidents could not be held now because of the pandemic but they had to be held later to make the grassroots structure accountable and responsible. “Right now, anyone gets any post in the party,” he said.
“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 have a passion for their party,” he said.
“Polls are not fought by five-star culture. The problem with leaders today is if they get a party ticket, they first book a five-star hotel. They won’t go if there’s a rough road. Till the time five-star culture is given up, one can’t win elections,” he added.