Several ‘Group of 23’ (G23) leaders of the Congress party – signatories of the critical letter from 2020, written to party chief Sonia Gandhi – have hit out at party leader Mallikarjun Kharge over his remarks against them.
In an interaction with The Indian Express, Kharge had reportedly suggested that the G23 leaders should not destroy the party that had given them so much. He had also alleged that these leaders had been missing during the pandemic.
On being asked about a dinner recently hosted by Kapil Sibal, which had several G23 leaders and a few other opposition leaders in attendance, Kharge had said:
«“It was a dinner for Kapil Sibal’s birthday and they would have discussed what they had to. I was not there, so I can’t give you an account of it. But if we discuss our party’s issues before people who we are fighting with in Punjab, does it strengthen our party?… It was a personal event. But people who have got everything from the party must not think of destroying the party.”» –
HOW DID THE CONGRESS LEADERS REACT?
Sibal, thereafter, reacted to Kharge’s comments, saying:
«“When a leader of some standing says that those who have got everything from the party must not think of destroying the party, he forgets he is referring to those who have given everything to the party, including some of us who have contributed in building the party while others left it during Mrs Gandhi’s time.”» –
He also added that they are all united in their “consistent wish” to strengthen the party and “save India’s soul”.
“We are agents of constructive change, not obstacles who are loathe to move without a push,” said Sibal, as per The Indian Express.
Meanwhile, Congress deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha, Anand Sharma, dubbed himself a “lifelong, committed Congress man,” and said that he believes in the party’s ideology and values.
«“Having highest respect for Congress president Sonia Gandhi, I stand for a strong and united Congress to confront the present challenges. Any controversy would be counterproductive.”» – Anand Sharma
Lok Sabha member Shashi Tharoor too reacted to Kharge’s remarks, calling them “unfortunate”.
«“Colleagues must respect each other’s bona fides. I have great respect for Mr Kharge and hope he appreciates that we are all equally committed to strengthening the party in the broader national struggle against the BJP.”» – Shashi Tharoor
The G23 who have been dubbed “a group of 23 dissenting leaders” have often maintained that they want the best for the party.
Earlier in February, party leader Raj Babbar was quoted by ANI as saying:
“People say ‘G23’, I say Gandhi 23. With the belief, resolve and thinking of Mahatma Gandhi, this nation’s law and Constitution was formed. Congress is standing strongly to take these forward. ‘G23’ want Congress to be strong.”
In August last year the G23 wrote to Sonia Gandhi seeking the party’s revival. They had asked for changes in the party, arguing that the party’s revival is “a national imperative”.
(With inputs from The Indian Express and ANI.)
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