The 'rebel' leaders of the Congress party, also known as the G-23, met at the Delhi residence of Ghulam Nabi Azad for a second time in two days on Thursday, 17 March. This comes hours after party leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who is also a member of the G-23, met with Rahul Gandhi.
Senior politicians Kapil Sibal and Anand Sharma were among those in attendance at Azad's residence, as per news agency ANI.
Former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda had met Rahul Gandhi earlier in the day. The meet was viewed as an outreach by the Gandhi family towards dissenters in the party.
The meeting with Gandhi came a day after the G-23 leaders and a few others from the Congress, demanded "collective and inclusive leadership" from the party's top brass.
After serial election defeats since 2014 – when the Congress lost power to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – the G-23 leaders were the first to write to Sonia Gandhi in 2020 calling for sweeping organisational changes, a "full-time and visible leadership" and collective decision-making.
What Happened at the Previous G-23+ Meet?
A group of Congress party leaders had met at Ghulam Nabi Azad's residence on Wednesday evening, to deliberate on the "demoralising outcome" of the recently held Assembly elections in five states, wherein the Congress' hold suffered a significant decline.
"We believe that the only way to move forward is for the Congress to adopt the model of collective and inclusive leadership and decision making at all levels," the leaders, which included Kapil Sibal, Anand Sharma, Manish Tewari, Bhupinder Hooda, and Prithviraj Chavan, said in a statement after the meeting.
"In order to oppose the BJP it is necessary to strengthen the Congress Party. We demand the Congress party to initiate dialogue with other likeminded forces to create a platform to pave the way for a credible alternative for 2024."The Joint Statement
Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor, who usually remains neutral in his views on the leadership of the Gandhi family, had also joined the meet.
'Sibal Must Be Expelled': Cong Leaders React To G-23 Dissent
Chhattisgarh Health Minister and senior Congress leader, TS Singhdeo, condemning Kapil Sibal's dissent against the Gandhi leadership, said on Thursday: "By all means an outrageous statement by Mr Kapil Sibal! Among the tough decisions being taken in this course correction, Mr Sibal must be expelled from the party for going public with his personal and obnoxious opinion against the combined decision of CWC."
"Sonia Gandhi is ready to talk to every Congressman. Right now the need is we should fight together, then some politicians (G23 leaders) are making rhetoric against the party. If their intentions are right then why don't you talk to Sonia Gandhi?" party leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said on Thursday.
"When these politicians were made ministers in the (UPA) government, did they ask whether the posts should be given keeping in view the democratic process? Then everything was fine because we were in power. Political parties fluctuate. See, it doesn't mean rebellion," He further stated.
This comes after Sibal had spoken out against the Gandhi family, criticising the leadership of the Congress for living in "cuckoo land."
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot had also condemned Sibal's comments, saying that the senior leader and lawyer was not a person of the "Congress culture".