The Group of 23 Congress leaders, who had sought changes in the party, spoke at a public event in Jammu on Saturday, saying the party was meandering into oblivion. Kapil Sibal reiterated the party is getting weak and called to strengthen the party ahead of polls in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry and Assam. Sibal said the group had gathered in Jammu to strengthen the party since it was progressively getting weaker.
Other leaders there included former Rajya Sabha MP Ghulam Nabi Azad, Rajya Sabha MP Vivek Tankha, former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Lok Sabha MP Manish Tewari. Actor-politician Raj Babbar was also present at the meeting.
The meeting comes days after the BJP hit out at Rahul Gandhi for his comments on Kerala voters in which he had drawn differences between voters of Uttar Pradesh and Kerala. The BJP had said the Congress was trying to divide India into North and South. Today, Sibal and Azad underlined that the Congress stood for all Indians.
Azad said the Congress respects all religions, people and castes and states and that it has been the strength of the party and it will continue with this.
At the Congress HQ in Delhi, Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the dissenting leaders should have added to the strength of the Congress in the 4 states and 1 union territory where elections are to be held. But the response was not as sharp as it had been earlier.
In August last year, the 23 leaders triggered a rift in the party when they wrote to interim chief Sonia Gandhi asking for full time and visible leadership. Last month it was decided a new party chief would be elected in June after the elections.