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Ghulam Nabi Azad recalls incident of Rahul Gandhi insulting senior colleagues in INC

Soon after resigning from the Indian National Congress (INC), veteran politician Ghulam Nabi Azad has begun singing, narrating incidents that happened inside the office of his former party. Recalling one of the incidents pertaining to the decision-making process in the political organisation, he said Rahul Gandhi insulted senior leaders through a show of hands when the former INC president was carrying out his "chowkidar chor hai" slogan against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2019. Ghulam Nabi Azad remembers that the gesture was an affront to many veterans in the party.

After the INC lost the Lok Sabha election and the BJP won a second straight term, Rahul Gandhi quit as his party's president. At an acrimonious and long meeting of the INC where he put in his papers, Rahul Gandhi said it had become impossible for him to function because of the resistance of the seniors in the party. He cited the example of his "chowkidar chor hai" campaign that he said no one backed.

Ghulam Nabi Azad said Rahul Gandhi asked his colleagues to raise hands if they had ever used his slogan while campaigning. Besides the from Jammu and Kashmir, Manmohan Singh, AK Antony and P Chidambaram were present at the time. "He made everybody raise their hands — those who said 'chowkidar chor hai'. I was sunk in my chair. So many senior people who have been chief minister, ministers with Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, PV Narasimha Rao — how do you expect them to speak this language in public?"

The Kashmiri said it was unthinkable for politicians like him to launch a personal attack on opponents. "We got our political under Indira Gandhi. While I was junior minister, she called ML Fotedar and me and said we should keep meeting Atal Bihari Vajpayee. See the difference between one leader and another. She said, 'Atalji is a politician too; he must also want to see work done. He will be hesitant to talk to me. So you ask him.' So we got the education to respect our elders and give equal respect to opposition leaders. We were not taught to say in public — PM chor hai. But is that an excuse for (Rahul Gandhi's) resignation?" Azad asked, "We can attack Modi right, left and centre, but we can't go personal like this?  Is this the language senior cabinet ministers should use?"

One of the sharpest critiques of Rahul Gandhi by Ghulam Nabi Azad in a five-page resignation letter to Sonia Gandhi was on his act of tearing up a 2013 ordnance in full public view. Azad called it childish behaviour, a glaring example of his immaturity and "the single action that more than anything else contributed significantly to the defeat of the UPA government in 2014".

"The act eroded the authority of the PM (Manmohan Singh) and the entire cabinet. I don't know if Rahul ji knows till today how ordinances are issued. Anything passed under the leadership of the head of government and head of state and you tear it up in the public domain," Azad remarked.

Ghulam Nabi Azad had alleged in his resignation letter that "important decisions are taken by Rahul Gandhi or rather worse his security guards and PAs (personal assistants)". Elaborating on the charge, he said, "I have proof. He asked them what kind of president a will be… Everybody knows in the party who they are, through whom they reach Rahul Gandhi…"

Azad said Sonia Gandhi was aware of what her was doing but was completely dependent on him. "All mothers are like that. All mothers, my mother, your mother… have a weakness for their children."

Rahul Gandhi had coined the slogan "chowkidar chor hai" in a reference to Narendra Modi calling himself a guard of the nation's resources that the prime minister said would not be allowed to be stolen. The dynast designed the slogan to bring forth the irony in the proposition that the guard was himself a thief. He attributed the statement wrongly to the Supreme Court, for which he had to subsequently apologise.

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