G-23 row: Cong says leaders respected but should do more in elections

G-23


New Delhi, Feb 27 : The Congress tried to smoothen things out after the group of dissenters chose to attack the party leadership over ignoring them and not consulting the party leaders in decision making or not building a consensus on any decision. Senior spokesperson of the party Abhishek Manu Singhvi said at a press conference that the leaders are highly "respected" in the party but they should have done more to "strengthen" the party in the poll-bound states. Singhvi played down the issue and said, "Each of the persons who are in Jammu are well regarded in the party. We are proud to have them in our party and I believe they are equally proud to be members of the Congress Party therefore they are part of this Congress family and therefore whatever I say is with the greatest respect to the leaders." "I respect the traditional legacy between Congress and them over these last three-four decades. The principal person in whose honour this (Jammu) rally was organised, nobody has used the word "istemal" (Use) in relation to Mr Azad, he has never complained. Those who use the word "istemal" betray certain things, lack of knowledge and ignorance about the contemporary history of the Congress and about the older history of the party. We are proud and he is proud that he has held the Congress flag for more than 7 terms in Parliament, 5 in Rajya Sabha and two in Lok Sabha, which is roughly 40 years. Congress President Sonia Gandhi nominated him as chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir." "I would therefore very, very gently and respectfully say that the best contribution to the Congress cause is to be active not among ourselves but to be active in various Abhiyans (campaigns) going on everyday in five states where the Congress is fighting elections. In light of what I have said I don't intend to answer those questions which sensationalize the issue and digress from the core issue," Singhvi added. Congress supporter Tahseen Poonawala was more critical and said, "I ask questions of Anand Sharma ji and Ghulam Nabi Azad sahab. Can they continuously win Lok Sabha elections from their home states? What did they do to strengthen the party in states like UP & TN where they were in-charge? Why did they not demand elections when they were always enjoying the 'fruits of power'? Why are they not campaigning in the state elections that are due?" In solidarity with the former Leader of Opposition, Congress dissenters including Kapil Sibal, Raj Babbar, Manish Tewari were in Jammu and chose to attack the party. Anand Sharma attacked those who have been critical of them. He said, "I have not given anyone the right to tell me if we are people of the Congress or not, no one has that right and we will build the party, we will strengthen it and believe in the strength and unity of Congress." He added that most of the leaders have covered a very long distance to reach where we are today. "Nobody among us has come through the window, all of us have walked through the door." Manish Tewari tweeted, "Impressive gathering in Jammu - Gandhi Global Family platform brings Progressive, pluralistic & nationalistic forces together to demand restoration of statehood of J&K & to protect and preserve the 'idea of India' pan nationally." /IANS




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