Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh has come down heavily on former party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad over his exit from the party last month. Speaking exclusively to Financial Express Online, Singh took strong exception to Azad’s criticism of the party’s top leadership, particularly Rahul Gandhi, during his exit, and wondered who influenced the seasoned Congressman to lash out in the manner that he did.
“Congress gave him (Azad) everything… Congress kept him in Rajya Sabha for 30 years and sent him to Lok Sabha twice from Maharashtra. Between 1977 and his appointment as the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Azad occupied some position or the other. Conducting internal elections was one of the demands of the G-23 (which Azad was part of). Now that it is happening, why has Ghulam Nabi Azad deserted the battlefield and fled?” Singh asked.
Taking the veteran leader from Jammu and Kashmir head-on, Singh, who served as Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh for two terms from 1993 to 2003, said it was unfortunate that leaders like Azad, who had raised the issue of the party losing its connection with the people, chose to abandon it when the party was set to embark upon its most ambitious mass contact programme in decades.
Singh was referring to the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ which will see Congress leaders including Rahul Gandhi undertake an arduous footmarch from Kanyakumari to Kashmir from September 7.
“Ghulam Nabi Azad, by resigning from Congress, has shot himself in the foot. He may find something, somewhere, but nothing can match the honour and respect that Congress accorded to him,” Singh said.
Criticising the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir over his absence from the erstwhile state when Article 370 was abrogated, Singh said that while all former chief ministers were taken into custody, Azad was “sitting in Delhi” and chose not to go there.
“Such people are only worried about themselves, not the country. Such politics which is not rooted in any ideology is plain opportunism,” Singh added.
Singh’s comments against Azad come a week after the latter resigned from the party, launching a no-holds-barred attack against Rahul Gandhi targetting him for the series of electoral losses and the party’s shrinking presence across India since 2014. Several leaders of the Congress from Jammu and Kashmir quit the party in solidarity with Azad.
On Sunday, Azad addressed a rally of his supporters in Jammu and said that he will launch his party and that the people of the erstwhile state will decide the name and flag of the outfit. Azad had earlier said that he will launch his political party and set up its first unit in Jammu and Kashmir where elections are due to be held in a few months.
(Note: The interview first appeared on Financial Express Hindi)