Amid Punjab crisis, Kapil Sibal takes dig at Congress leadership: ‘G-23 leaders are not the ones leaving party’

Sibal, who was among the 23 leaders who wrote a letter to interim Congress chief Sonia Gandhi last year seeking radical changes in the party, said the Congress should try to remain united in Punjab.

With the Congress grappling with a fresh round of crisis in Punjab in the run-up to the Assembly elections early next year, veteran leader Kapil Sibal on Wednesday took a dig at the leadership, saying that the “G-23 leaders will never leave the party and go anywhere else”.

Sibal, who was among the leaders who wrote a letter to interim Congress chief Sonia Gandhi last year seeking radical changes in the party, said the Congress should try to remain united in Punjab and any infighting in the border state can be of advantage to the ISI and Pakistan.

“I’m speaking to you (the media) on behalf of those Congressmen who wrote the letter in August last year and are waiting for the actions to be taken by our leadership in respect of the election of the office of the president, to CWC and central election committee. We (leaders of G-23) are not the ones who will leave the party and go anywhere else. It is ironic. Those who were close to them (party leadership) have left and those whom they don’t consider to be close to them are still standing with them,” Sibal was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

Speaking at a press conference, he added, “In our party, there is no president so we don’t know who is taking decisions. We know and yet we don’t know. I believe that one of my senior colleagues has perhaps written or is about to write to Congress president to immediately convene a CWC so that a dialogue can take place as to why we are in this state.”

Sibal also said, “One thing should be clear for everyone. We are not the ‘Ji huzoor-23’. We will keep talking. We will continue to reiterate our demands…Every Congress leader of the country should think as to how the party can be strengthened. Those who have left should come back because Congress alone can save this republic.”

Referring to the crisis in Punjab, Sibal said, “A border state where this is happening to Congress party means what? It is an advantage to ISI and Pakistan. We know the history of Punjab and the rise of extremism there… Congress should ensure that they remain united.”

Sibal’s statement came in the backdrop of the fresh trouble within the Punjab Congress, with Navjot Singh Sidhu resigning as the party’s state president. The development come only days after he forced a change of guard in Punjab that saw Captain Amarinder Singh stepping down as the Chief Minister.

Appointed PPCC chief on July 19, Sidhu resigned minutes after allocation of portfolios to ministers in the new government headed by Charanjit Singh Channi who succeeded Amarinder Singh as Chief Minister. Sidhu’s resignation was followed by that of minister Razia Sultana who quit “in solidarity” with him. Her husband, former DGP Mohammad Mustafa, is Sidhu’s chief strategic adviser.

Earlier in the day, Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi said he has spoken to Sidhu and invited him for dialogue. Channi said, “The party president is the head of the family. The head should discuss the matters within the family. I have spoken to Sidhu Sahib today and invited him for dialogue. I have told him that the party’s ideology is supreme and a government follows that ideology. I have told him that if he has any issues, we can talk those out.”

Despite the differences he has had with his own party, Sibal has remained a steadfast critic of the BJP. Earlier this year, Sibal had categorically ruled out joining the saffron party.

“We’re true Congressmen, never in my life will I think of joining BJP, like over my dead body. It could be that if Congress leadership informs me to leave. I may think of leaving party on that basis but won’t join BJP,” he had said.

The senior leader had also exuded confidence that the Congress leadership would listen and resolve its internal issues. “…because nothing survives without listening; no corporate structure can survive without listening and so is with politics. If you don’t listen, you will fall into bad days.”

After Jitin Prasada switched sides to the BJP, Sibal had said, “What is the rational basis for that except for ‘prasada (personal gain) politics… We see this happening around the country,” Sibal had said. Sibal had also said if Prasada would have left the party unhappy over the response of the leadership on the concerns raised by the letter writers, that would have been his personal choice and he was entitled to leave.

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