Congress is at its lowest in the last 72 years: Azad

Congress is at its lowest in the last 72 years: Ghulam Nabi Azad

Azad says that the Gandhis are not to be blamed for the party's recent debacle

Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad. Credit: PTI Photo

A big fight has broken out within the Congress, with veteran party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad backing concerns about the functioning of the party flagged by Kapil Sibal and slamming the five-star culture that has gripped the organisation.

Azad’s open support of Sibal laid bare the divide in the Congress even as leaders such as Ashok Gehlot, Mallikarjun Kharge and Salman Khurshid has time and again insisted that there is no leadership crisis within the party.

“Polls are not won by five-star culture. Problem with leaders today is if they get a party ticket, they first book a five-star hotel. They will not go if there is a rough road. Till the time five-star culture is given up, one cannot win elections,” Azad, the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha told ANI.

He said that the Congress had reached its lowest point in 72 years and has not even succeeded in getting the post of the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha for two consecutive terms.

Azad further added that the party’s structure had collapsed and there is an urgent need to restructure the party at every level.

“We need to rebuild our structure and then if any leader is elected in that structure, it will work. But saying that just by changing the leader, we will win Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh is wrong. That will happen once we change the system,” said Azad, the former J&K Chief Minister.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, senior leaders Salman Khurshid, Mallikarjun Kharge have launched a strong defence of the leadership, chiding the “dissenters” for weakening the party from within instead of fighting the RSS-BJP ideology.

Khurshid on Sunday said there is no leadership crisis within the Congress and everyone’s voice is being heard by the party leadership which enjoys all-round support.

“I think that is apparent to anyone who is not blind, that people are fully supportive of Congress president Sonia ji and of Rahul Gandhi, who is our former president. Everybody supports them,” Khurshid was quoted as saying by PTI.

Earlier, Gehlot had hit out at Sibal for airing his views in public, contending that the Congress has weathered many a crisis and emerged stronger.

However, Azad insisted that his remarks should not be seen as a rebellion against the leadership.

“There is no rebellion in the Congress party. Rebellion means replacing someone. There is no other candidate for the post of the party president. This is not a rebellion. This is for reforms,” Azad said.

Azad also said that he is giving a “clean chit” to the Gandhis due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I'm giving a clean chit to Gandhis right now. They cannot do much due to Covid-19 pandemic. But there is no change in our demands. Our leadership will have to hold these (internal) elections.. be it two months from now, four-month. … Plus, there has to be a culture of accountability after loss in elections,” Azad said.