New Delhi, Aug 26: Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Friday resigned from the party ahead of organisational elections, terming it comprehensively destroyed and accusing the leadership of committing fraud" on the party in the name of "sham" internal polls.
Delivering another blow to the embattled party that has seen a series of high profile exits, including that of Kapil Sibal and Ashwani Kumar, in the recent past, Azad wrote a five page no holds barred letter to the Congress president detailing his grievances.
Ending his over five decade association with the party, including from its primary membership, the 73-year-old said the party had "lost both the will and ability under the tutelage of the coterie" running the affairs of the party to fight for what is right for India.
The Congress said the move was unfortunate and the timing awful, coming at a time the party is engaged in combating the BJP on issues of price rise and unemployment.
Hitting out at his former colleague, the party's media department head Pawan Khera said Azad became restless as soon his Rajya Sabha term got over. He can't stay without post even for a second, Khera said.
Azad, who named Rahul Gandhi in his stinging letter, said a "remote control model" had demolished the institutional integrity of the UPA government and now the Congress party. He said decisions are taken by either Rahul Gandhi or even by security guards and PAs.
"Unfortunately, after the entry of Rahul Gandhi into politics and particularly after January 2013 when he was appointed as vice president by you, the entire consultative mechanism which existed earlier was demolished by him." Azad wrote to Sonia Gandhi
"All senior and experienced leaders were sidelined and the new coterie of inexperienced sycophants started running the affairs of the party," he alleged.
Azad, a member of G-23 group that sought change in the party, said he and his other colleagues will now persevere to perpetuate the ideals for which they had dedicated their entire adult lives outside the formal fold of the Congress.
He said the Congress at the national level has conceded political space available to the BJP and state level space to regional parties
"This all happened because the leadership in the past eight years has tried to foist a non-serious individual at the helm of the party," he alleged.
"It is, therefore, with great regret and an extremely leaden heart that I have decided to sever my half a century old association with the Indian National Congress and hereby resign from all party positions including the primary membership of the Indian National Congress," he told Sonia Gandhi.
Terming the entire organisational election process a "farce and a sham", he said at no place anywhere in the country have elections been held at any level of the organisation.
"Handpicked lieutenants of the AICC have been coerced to sign on lists prepared by the coterie that runs the AICC sitting in 24, Akbar Road. At no place in a booth, block, district or state was an electoral roll published," he said.
"The AICC leadership is squarely responsible for perpetrating a giant fraud on the party to perpetuate its hold on the ruins of what once was a national movement that fought for and attained the Independence of India," Azad lashed out.
"Does the Indian National Congress deserve this in the 75th year of India's independence is a question that the AICC leadership must ask itself."
In fact, before starting the Bharat Jodo Yatra, the leadership should have undertaken a 'Congress jodo' exercise across the country, he said.
"Unfortunately, the situation in the Congress has reached such a point of no return that now 'proxies' are being propped up to take over the leadership of the party. This experiment is doomed to fail because the party has been so comprehensively destroyed that the situation has become irretrievable. Moreover, the 'chosen one' would be nothing more than a puppet on a string," he said.
He alleged that on the directions of the coterie that runs the AICC today, "my mock funeral procession was taken out in Jammu".
"Those who committed this indiscipline were feted in Delhi by the general secretaries of the AICC and Shri Rahul Gandhi personally," he said.
Under Sonia Gandhi's leadership since 2014 and subsequently that of Rahul Gandhi, the Congress lost two Lok Sabha elections in a humiliating manner and 39 of the 49 assembly elections held between 2014 and 2022, Azad wrote.
The party has won four state elections and was able to get into a coalition situation in six instances, he said, noting that the Congress today rules in only two states and is a very marginal coalition partner in two other states.
"Since the 2019 elections the situation in the party has only worsened. After Rahul Gandhi stepped down in a 'huff' and not before insulting all the senior party functionaries who have given their lives to the party in a meeting of the extended working committee, you took over as interim president, a position that you have continued to hold even today for the past three years." he wrote.
Hitting out at the Gandhis, he said while Sonia Gandhi is just a nominal figurehead, all important decisions are being taken by Rahul Gandhi or rather worse his security guards and PAs". he said
The former Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha also brought up Rahul Gandhi tearing up of a government ordinance in full public glare of the media during the UPA rule and described it as "one of the most glaring examples of immaturity".
"This 'childish' behaviour completely subverted the authority of the prime minister and the Government of India. This one single action more than anything else contributed significantly to the defeat of the UPA government in 2014...,"" he said.
Referring to the letter written by him and 22 other leaders in August 2020 to flag the "abysmal drift" in the party, he said "the coterie chose to unleash its sycophants on us and got us attacked, vilified and humiliated in the most crude manner possible".
Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit, who was a member of the G-23 group, expressed dismay and a "sense of betrayal" over Azad's resignation from the party and said quitting strengthens the policies, systems and people that made them write the "letter of reform".