G-23 leaders target Cong High Command over Sibal row

G-23 leaders target Congress High Command for protest at Sibal's residence

The leaders from the G-23 suggested that the protest at Sibal's house was planned at the behest of the central leadership

Delhi Congress workers hold placards reading 'Get Well Soon Kapil Sibal' stage a protest against senior party leader Kapil Sibal outside his residence, hours after Sibal reiterated demands sweeping reforms raised by G-23 leaders, in New Delhi, Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021. Credit: PTI Photo

The protest by Congress supporters in front of senior MP Kapil Sibal's residence has prompted the change-seekers or G-23 leaders to once again target the central leadership, saying "intolerance and violence" is alien to party's values and culture, and Sonia Gandhi should take action against those who "masterminded" the "orchestrated hooliganism" and "command performance".

Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram also joined the G-23 leaders like former Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, Congress Rajya Sabha Deputy Leader Anand Sharma, former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and senior Lok Sabha MPs Manish Tewari and Shashi Tharoor to come out in strong support of Sibal, underlining his Congress credentials and opposing attempts to gag critics within the party.

The leaders from the G-23, who had last year written to Sonia seeking a revamp and election in the party, appeared to suggest that the protest at Sibal's house after he addressed a press meet was planned at the behest of the central leadership. Chidambaram had not signed the last year's letter though he was said to be in agreement with the sentiments expressed in the letter.

Former Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, Congress Rajya Sabha Deputy Leader Anand Sharma and senior Lok Sabha MPs Manish Tewari and Shashi Tharoor took to Twitter to come out in strong support of Sibal, underlining his Congress credentials and opposing attempts to gag critics within the party.

Strongly condemning the "orchestrated hooliganism", Azad said Sibal is a "loyal" Congressman fighting for the party both inside and outside the Parliament. "Any suggestion from any quarter should be welcomed instead of suppressing, hooliganism is unacceptable," he said.

In strong words, Chidambaram said late evening, "I feel helpless when we cannot start meaningful conversations within party forums. I also feel hurt and helpless when I see pictures of Congress workers raising slogans outside the residence of a colleague and MP. The safe harbour to which one can withdraw seems to be silence."

Sharma said he was "shocked and disgusted" to hear the news of "attack and hooliganism" and this "deplorable action" brings "disrepute" to the party and needs to be "strongly condemned".

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"Congress has a history of upholding freedom of expression. Differences of opinion and perception are integral to a democracy. Intolerance and violence is alien to Congress values and culture...Those responsible must be identified and disciplined. Urging Congress president Smt Sonia Gandhi to take cognisance and take strong action," he said in tweets.

 

Senior Lok Sabha MP Manish Tewari said, "Unequivocally condemn orchestrated hooliganism at Kapil Sibal's residence last (Wednesday) night. Those who masterminded assault must bear in mind that he fights for Congress both inside and outside courts of Law. You may find his views uncomfortable but that cannot be a license for violence."

"Those who are trying to defend the command performance last night. This is what happened at Kapil Sibal's house. They damaged the car. Stood on top, so it caved in .Threw tomatoes both outside and inside the house .If this is not hooliganism then what else is it'???" Tewari said in a tweet.

 

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor described the protest as "shameful" and said, "We all know Kapil Sibal as a true Congressman who has fought multiple cases in court for
Congress. As a democratic party we need to listen to what he has to say, disagree if you must but not in this way. Our priority is to strengthen ourselves to take on the BJP!"

"Orchestrated hooliganism outside Kapil Sibal's residence last night is not the culture of Congress. If one has any difference of views, the same should be brought up and discussed at party forum," Hooda said.

Suspended Congress leader Sanjay Jha, who supports the G-23 leaders, said sarcastically, "I am touched by those who were concerned about Kapil Sibal's health last night. But holding a placard and shouting was a novel method for sure. Incidentally, he was and is doing great. And as for you, catch some sleep."

A group of Congress supporters had gathered outside Sibal's residence around 7 pm with "Get Well Soon" posters, protesting against the comments he made at the press meet. Sibal said nobody knows who takes decisions in the party in the absence of an elected president and that several people who were close to the central leadership left the party while those who are considered not close to them like him are still in the party.

Last night itself, senior Congress leader Ajay Maken countered Sibal saying, "Sonia- ji had ensured that Sibal becomes Union Minister despite not having organisational background. Everyone in the party is being heard. I want to tell Sibal and others that they shouldn't degrade the organisation that gave them an identity."

Another leader Udit Raj tweeted on Thursday, "Whosoever is making decisions in Congress party is immaterial?  Making a Dalit Chief Minister in Punjab is a best decision."

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