The Congress said on Friday, 26 August, that it was "unfortunate" and "regrettable" that veteran leader Ghulam Nabi Azad resigned from the party when it was fighting the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on issues such as price rise and unemployment.
While addressing a press conference, Congress leader Ajay Maken said that the party was "saddened" by Azad's resignation after 52 years of service.
"It is most unfortunate and regrettable that this has happened when the entire organisation is engaged in combating the BJP on issues of price rise and unemployment," Maken said.
Meanwhile, the Congress' communications in-charge Jairam Ramesh said that the claims made by Azad while resigning were not factual and the timing was "awful".
Azad had made a scathing attack on the Congress' central leadership, most prominently targeting Rahul and Sonia Gandhi, in his resignation letter.
'GNA's DNA Has Been Modi-Fied, Reveals His True Nature': Ramesh
Ramesh said that Azad was treated with the greatest respect, and the fact that he made "vicious" personal attacks revealed his "true character."
He also added that "GNA's DNA has been Modi-fied."
Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera also attacked the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister saying that he became "restless" after his term as the Rajya Sabha MP expired.
"As soon Azad's Rajya Sabha term got over, he became restless. He can't stay without a post even for a second," Khera was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
On the other hand, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said that he had "no words" to express how he felt after reading Azad's letter, and that nobody could have predicted it.
"I have no words to express what I feel about about his (Azad's) resignation letter. He served at many positions in the party. No one expected he would write such a letter," Gehlot said while speaking to the press.
Meanwhile, Congress leader and member of the G-23, Sandeep Dikshit, said that members of the group had written a letter for reform in the party, instead of rebellion, and that it was important to stay within the party to bring about the desired changes.
"When I read your letter of resignation, it gave me a sense of dismay and, unfortunately, then a sense of betrayal," the son of former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit wrote in a letter to Azad.
More 'Congress Todo' Than 'Congress Jodo': Digvijaya Singh
Targeting Azad for his resignation, senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh said that his (Azad) move has been one of "Congress todo (breaking the Congress)" instead of "Congress jodo (uniting the Congress)".
"You may have relations with those who abrogated Article 370 (of the Constitution), you may have developed close ties with them. You have written that Congress jodo is needed and in the same letter, you are saying there is no need for Bharat jodo. Instead of Congress jodo, your step has been for Congress todo and I strongly condemn it," Singh said.
'Party Gave Him Everything': Mallikarjun Kharge
Congress veteran Mallikarjun Kharge also reacted to Azad's resignation, saying that after he enjoyed power for so long, he was now finding fault with the party. "The party has given him everything," he said.
He also said that his comments on Rahul Gandhi were "immature" and "not in good taste."
"Our actions should not weaken the Congress movement which has always stood by the nation in turbulent times," he added.
Kharge also tweeted, "Leaving at this juncture will only strengthen the very fascist force which is out to destroy the social fabric and Constitution of India. A better decision should have been taken keeping the interest of the nation in mind."
Meanwhile, Congress leader Shakti Singh Gohil said, "Party made him (Azad) the CM of J&K, a union minister, general secretary of the party, CWC member, leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha. Party gave him everything one can get during their political life."
"He got everything and when he was retiring from the Rajya Sabha, instead of accepting that, he may have fallen in the trap of the crocodile tears shed by (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi. Modi was being sarcastic against the party but Azad never refuted him (during his farewell in Parliament)," Gohil added.
'People of All Age Groups Frustrated With Cong Leadership': Former Spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill
On the other hand, former Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill, who recently resigned from the party as well, said that Nabi's resignation letter proves that leaders across age groups are "frustrated" with the Congress' top brass.
"Now a senior leader is speaking about it becoming a club of PAs and security guards shows that leaders across age groups are frustrated and disappointed by this entire coterie culture that is thriving in the Congress," Shergill was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
He also said that the letter highlighted the sentiments of all those members who were tired of the "darbari culture" in the party.
"In reality, this cabal is working within the Congress on a 'Congress Todo Abhiyan', elbowing out all the well-meaning leaders. This letter speaks loudly of sentiments of thousands of well-meaning Congress workers who are troubled by this 'Darbari' culture," Shergill asserted.
Congress leader Anand Sharma, who had recently resigned from the Himachal Pradesh steering committee of the Congress saying that he felt "humiliated" and "vilified", said that Azad's resignation was "entirely avoidable.
"It's a serious development and will pain all Congressmen. I'm personally shocked. This situation was entirely avoidable. We were hopeful that there would be serious introspection but unfortunately, that process was subverted," he said.
On the other hand, National Conference (NC) chief Farooq Abdullah said that Azad must have decided to resign because he was not being respected. He also reiterated that the the country needed the Congress to come back stronger as an Opposition party.
"(Azad) must not be getting respect. Love (was) showered upon him earlier. Congress was taken aback when the 32 leaders wrote a letter. But it's happened before, and the Congress came back stronger. The country needs a strong Opposition," Abdullah said.
Meanwhile, NC leader Omar Abdullah said that Azad's resignation was a "body blow" to the Congress, adding that it was "sad" to see the grand old party "implode."
"Long rumoured to be in the offing but a body blow to the Congress none the less. Perhaps the senior most leader to quit the party in recent times, his resignation letter makes for a very painful reading. It’s sad, and quite scary, to see the grand old party of India implode," he said in a tweet.
'Azad is Welcome to Join BJP'
On the other hand, Haryana BJP leader Kuldeep Bishnoi said that Azad would be welcome to join the saffron party, adding that the Congress was in a "self-destruction" mode.
"It won't be wrong to say that Congress is in a self-destruction, suicidal mode. I suggest Rahul Gandhi sets aside his ego. Ghulam Nabi Azad is welcome in BJP. If the party asks me, then I can persuade him to join the party," he said.
Sonia Gandhi Only Trying to Promote Her 'Immature' Son: Assam CM
On the other hand, Assam Chief Minister and BJP leader, Himanta Biswa Sarma, said that one could find a lot of similarities in his resignation letter to the Congress back in 2015 and Azad's, particularly with regard to Rahul Gandhi's "immaturity."
"If you read Ghulam Nabi Azad's letter and the letter I wrote in 2015, you'll find a lot of similarities. In the Congress, everyone knows Rahul Gandhi is immature. Sonia Gandhi is not taking care of the party, she's only trying to promote her son. It is a futile attempt," ANI quoted Sarma as saying.
He also claimed that he had predicted that a time will come when all those loyal to the Congress would desert it and only the Gandhis would remain.
(With inputs from ANI.)