In an indication that G23’s resistance is all but over, both candidates in the Congress presidential election claimed that the group no longer exists. G23’s role came under the scanner after its members like Manish Tewari, Anand Sharma, Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Prithviraj Chavan became proposers for Mallikarjun Kharge, believed to be the Congress high command’s choice for the top post. While Shashi Tharoor was also a member of the dissident group, he didn’t receive the support of any G23 leader barring Sandeep Dikshit.
A day earlier, Mallikarjun Kharge asserted, “There is no G23 camp now. All leaders (of G23) want to work together to stay united and fight against BJP-RSS. This is the reason they are supporting me.”
Addressing the media in Hyderabad on Friday, Shashi Tharoor said, “First of all, there is no G23 group. There never was. It was a media idea. As far as I can tell you, a couple of senior leaders wrote a letter. They invited a large number of people to support them. They told me that they contacted over a hundred people on the phone who expressed support. It so happened that COVID lockdown was on in 2020 and at that time, 23 people were available in Delhi to sign it. That’s why 23 signed. It could have been 100, it could have been less., it could have been more.”
There is no G23 camp now. All leaders (of G23) want to work together to stay united and fight against BJP-RSS. This is the reason they are supporting me: Congress MP Mallikarjun Kharge pic.twitter.com/Wger3mwEy3
— ANI (@ANI) October 2, 2022
G23 leaders flag concerns
In a letter addressed to Sonia Gandhi on August 23, 2020, 23 senior party leaders observed that the uncertainty over the leadership and the drift in the party have weakened Congress and demoralized the workers. The letter reportedly mentioned many suggestions such as the need for full-time leadership available at the national and state headquarters, conducting elections at all levels including the Congress Working Committee and state level, the formation of an Independent Election Authority, and institutional leadership mechanism to guide the party’s revival. This group became known as ‘G23’.
The internal rift in the party widened after Congress retained Sonia Gandhi as the interim president and delayed elections until this year despite a spate of electoral defeats. While some leaders of the dissident group including Jitin Prasada, Yoganand Shastri, Kapil Sibal and Ghulam Nabi Azad quit Congress, others such as Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Mukul Wasnik, Milind Deora and Veerappa Moily were mollified by the party top brass. With the election of the new Congress president, the future of the group is in peril.