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New Delhi: Leaders of the Congress’s ‘group of 23’ met at the residence of former Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad on Wednesday, March 16, to work out the grouping’s future strategy and discuss the party’s performance in the just concluded assembly polls in five states.
The leaders said the only way forward for the grand old party is to adopt a model of collective and inclusive leadership and decision making at all levels.
Party president Sonia Gandhi has, according to reports, reached out to Azad and an inclusive meeting between current leadership and the dissident grouping appears to be on the cards.
The decision to convene a meeting of the G-23 came came a day after Sonia Gandhi sought the resignation of Congress presidents of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur and Goa following the party’s dismal performance there.
Sibal, in his latest salvo targeting the leadership had said the Gandhis should step aside and give another leader a chance to helm the party, provoking a backlash from another section of leaders.
It was reported that the leaders were supposed to meet at Kapil Sibal’s residence but this venue reportedly changed.
Among the leaders who attended the meeting were Sibal, Anand Sharma, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Prithviraj Chavan, Manish Tewari, Shashi Tharoor, Vivek Tankha, Raj Babbar, Akhilesh Prasad Singh and Sandeep Dikshit.
More leaders who were earlier not seen as part of the G-23 grouping joined this time, including Patiala MP and wife of Captain Amarinder Singh, Preneet Kaur, former Gujarat chief minister Shankar Singh Vaghela, former union minister Mani Shankar Aiyar and former Haryana speaker Kuldeep Sharma.
The G-23 leaders had invited all Congress leaders, including those outside the group, to join them. Wednesday’s meeting was also a departure from norm in that the leaders issued a statement on the proceedings.
In the statement, they also urged the Congress leadership to initiate talks with like-minded forces to create a way for a credible alternative in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
The meeting was convened after a crucial Congress Working Committee meeting on Sunday, in which Sonia Gandhi was chosen to remain on as president.
The G-23 grouping has been critical of the party leadership and has been demanding organisational overhaul, after they wrote a joint letter to Sonia Gandhi in 2020.