Rahul Gandhi never said letter was sent at behest of BJP: Ghulam Nabi Azad
Leader of the opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad clarified on Monday that Rahul Gandhi never said that signatories of the letter calling for sweeping reforms within the party were working in tandem with the BJP. The development comes after Azad said he would quit all posts if the charge was proven amid high drama at the Congress Working Committee meeting.
“Some Congress persons wrote yesterday that we are doing this at the behest of BJP. It is in that reference that I said that it is most unfortunate that some of our colleagues outside the CWC had gone to extent of saying that the letter was sent at the behest of BJP,” Azad said.
“In the meeting, I said those people who are outside the CWC who are making these allegations should prove it and I will resign if they prove it. Rahul Gandhi at no point said the letter was sent at the behest of BJP,” Azad said.
Kapil Sibal, one of the signatories of the letter to party chief Sonia Gandhi, also deleted his tweet in which he hit back at Rahul Gandhi for his reported accusation. Sibal, who tweeted that he had never made a statement in favour of BJP in last 30 years, said Rahul informed him “personally that he never said what was attributed to him”.
The remarks by Sibal and Azad came after Rahul Gandhi reportedly lashed out at the leaders who had written the letter and questioned its timing. Gandhi reportedly said the letter was written at a time when the party was battling a crisis in Rajasthan and Sonia Gandhi was unwell.
Congress national spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said Rahul Gandhi never made such remarks and warned against being misled by “false media discourse”.
“Rahul Gandhi hasn’t said a word of this nature nor alluded to it. Pl don’t be mislead by false media discourse or misinformation being spread. But yes, we all need to work together in fighting the draconian Modi rule rather then fighting & hurting each other and the Congress,” Surjewala said.
Earlier in the day, Sonia Gandhi offered to quit and asked the CWC to initiate the process for selecting a new party chief. However, former prime minister Manmohan Singh and AK Antony urged her to continue till a permanent president was appointed.
The unprecedented letter, written by 23 senior leaders, including five former Chief Ministers, many Congress Working Committee members, sitting MPs, and several former Union Ministers, called for “full time and effective leadership” that is both “visible” and “active” in the field; elections to the CWC; and the urgent establishment of an “institutional leadership mechanism” to “collectively” guide the party’s revival.
On the other hand, the letter has also set off a huge outpouring of support for Sonia Gandhi and son Rahul in the form of statements from across state units led by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, his Chhattisgarh counterpart Bhupesh Baghel and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.
If Gandhi insists on stepping down, the CWC could ask former president Rahul Gandhi to step in but he had many times in the past expressed his reluctance to return to the top post. Rahul had resigned last year in the wake of the party’s defeat in the Lok Sabha elections.