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New Vs Old, TMC's Endgame: Another G-23 Meet Signals Widening Gap in Congress on Key Issues

CPI (M) leader Harkishan Singh Surjeet’s home has become the venue for yet another round of G-23 meet.  (Image: News18)

CPI (M) leader Harkishan Singh Surjeet’s home has become the venue for yet another round of G-23 meet. (Image: News18)

The worry is that with TMC making no bones about the fact that it has plans beyond Bengal, it's not ascertained in which position this would lead the Congress in.

CPIM patriarch Harkishan Singh Surjeet’s home has become the venue for yet another round of G-23 meet. The first time it hosted an Opposition birthday bash by senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal, the event grabbed eyeballs for the candid talk on the state of the Congress.

It was followed by a similar Opposition meeting called by Congress veteran Sonia Gandhi to make the point that she was the one who was the boss, and would call the shots for any united front against the ruling BJP.

Just days after a Janmasthami meet called by Kapil Sibal which discussed several issues such as why there should be a need for a political analyst Prashant Kishore to khow how Punjab and Chhattisgarh were being ‘mishandled’, a meeting was held at the official residence of Kapil Sibal, once again. Present were Ghulam Nabi Azad, Bhupinder Hooda, and Anand Sharma. Sibal is one of the most aggressive faces of the G-23 — the group that had written a letter to Sonia Gandhi last August, calling for a complete overhaul of the party.

Hooda, who was a signatory to the G-23 letter to Sonia Gandhi, was seen in public after a long time because of Covid-19 restrictions but this meeting came just days after the leader held a meeting with his supporters in Haryana. He has been upset with the top leadership and has been demanding a free hand with ticket distribution and strategy in the upcoming state polls.

Interestingly, the third tea party followed a small get together Kapil Sibal hosted for select journalists. Sources say the issues remained the same: the botched-up planning in Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh.

The worry was expressed that Congress may lose further relevance and this would ease it out of any vantage position it could demand for the formation of a front against the BJP for 2024.

The worry is that with TMC making no bones about the fact that it has plans beyond Bengal and that Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee eyes a national role, it’s not ascertained in which position this would lead the Congress in.

The so called loyalists in the Congress have labelled the G-23 as traitors. One such member told News18: “only time will tell who is the traitor. We want Congress to rise and we are the true loyalists.”

As the Congress top leadership watches silently as Navjot Singh Sidhu and his peers target the Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, many in G-23 are apprehensive that this could set a trend; that veterans could be eased out and at times this could hurt the party in polls. “It can’t be either or. You need both seniors and fresh blood. We should not be seen as adversaries,” a senior leader said.

But this is easier said than done. All are awaiting the state poll results. A Congress wipeout would mean more knives would be out against top leadership. For now the schism is widening.

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first published:September 04, 2021, 22:40 IST