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No Intelligent Person Would Use Such a Word: Ghulam Nabi Azad on 'Group of 23' Being Called 'Traitors'

Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad.

Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad.

Azad, who is most vocal among the 23 letter writers, seeking far-reaching reforms within the party to ensure that the Congress does not remain out of power for decades, asserted that Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi has also agreed to hold the elections as soon as possible.

Snapping back at those who called 23 letter writers demanding organisational reforms “traitors", senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Monday said that “no intelligent person would use such a word". Azad, who is also a Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, further said that elections to choose a permanent Congress president will be held anytime within six months.

Azad, who is most vocal among the 23 letter writers, seeking far-reaching reforms within the party to ensure that the Congress does not remain out of power for decades, asserted that Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi has also agreed to hold the elections as soon as possible.

Speaking to News18.com, he said, “The Congress interim president (Sonia Gandhi) has accepted our biggest demand that the party should have a permanent president. The date of election of Congress President has been fixed. The elections can be held anytime within 6 months. Congress interim president also wants that the election should be held as soon as possible."

“We will put the rest of the demands in front of our elected new president… No one is going to leave the Congress, nor has anyone come from outside, all are Congress people. All are members of the Congress family. We used the internal democracy of the Congress," he continued.

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“For those who are calling us traitors, I would say that no intelligent person would use such words," he said, after a ‘Group of 23′ signatories to the letter who are members of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) were termed as “traitors" at a meet recently where both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi were present.

The Congress had said that it is not appropriate for any leader to go public on internal matters of the party after president Sonia Gandhi had called for moving on collectively at the recent CWC meeting, which had discussed the leadership issue.

The Congress’ remarks come as some of its leaders continue to make statements in public over internal party issues, after 23 leaders wrote to Gandhi calling for far-reaching reforms within the party such as having a “full time, active and visible" leadership.

They had also called for devolution of powers to state units and revamping the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the highest decision making body of the party, in line with the party constitution.

Azad, while justifying the letter to the Congress chief, had said it was in the interest of the party to hold elections to the CWC (the party’s highest-decision making body) and bring changes as suggested, “otherwise the Congress will keep sitting in the opposition for the next 50 years".

Another signatory to the letter, Kapil Sibal has said in interviews that the Congress needs a “de jure and a de facto president" and concerns raised in their letter to the party chief should be addressed as soon as possible. Sibal has also alleged that politics in the country is now based primarily on loyalty, but what is needed is merit, inclusiveness and commitment to the cause.

He had said after their letter, the issue that was debated was loyalty and not its contents. Sibal had said this happens when distances within the party increase and moves are views with suspicion.