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A day after G-23 meet, Ghulam Nabi Azad lauds PM Modi, says ‘he doesn’t hide his true self’

His comments came a day after a group of senior party leaders, who have been demanding sweeping reforms in the Congress, reiterated their call for a change at a joint public event in Jammu. 

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: February 28, 2021 10:13:39 pm
Ghulam Nabi Azad, Narendra Modi, Congress G-23, Sonia Gandhi, Congress party, indian expressJammu: Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad during a 'Shanti Sammelan' event in Jammu, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. (PTI Photo)

Veteran Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Sunday lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying that “he does not hide his true self”.

“I like a lot of things about many leaders. I am from village and feel proud. Even our Prime Minister comes from a village and used to sell tea. Although we are political rivals, I appreciate that he doesn’t hide his true self,” Azad said while addressing a gathering in Jammu.

“Those who do, are living in a bubble,” added Azad, who retired from the Rajya Sabha on February 15.

His comments came a day after a group of senior party leaders, who have been demanding sweeping reforms in the Congress, reiterated their call for a change at a joint public event in Jammu.

Azad, who returned to home ground Jammu and Kashmir after more than a year, had said he may have retired from the Upper House of Parliament but was not retiring from politics. He was among the 23 senior leaders who had written to Sonia last year seeking widespread reforms in the party.

The event was attended by leaders such as Anand Sharma, Kapil Sibal, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Manish Tewari, Raj Babbar and Vivek Tankha. It was organised by the Gandhi Global Family, an organisation headed by Azad.

Sharma and Sibal had said that the Congress was getting weakened, with Sibal questioning why the Congress had not seen it fit to utilise the experience of a leader like Azad and let him retire from the Rajya Sabha.

Countering the group of leaders, the Congress had responded by saying it would be better if the leaders instead campaigned in the Assembly election-bound states to strengthen the party’s hands.

Interestingly, PM Modi had given Azad a tearful farewell earlier this month in the Rajya Sabha. The Prime Minister broke down several times during his 13-minute speech, as he recalled his close association with Azad. “At a personal level, I would request him to not consider that he is not in the House. My door is always open for all of you… I will always expect, and value, your views,” Modi had said. “I will not let you retire,” he had told the Congress veteran.

Azad had also turned emotional during his response. He said the BJP has always been part of “nationalist politics”, and he felt “proud” that he was a “Hindustani Muslim”. While he did not mention the abrogation of Article 370 in J&K, he sought to draw attention to the plight of Kashmiri Pandits. Addressing Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, Azad said: “Both of you are sitting here. Build the homes which were uprooted, we will all have to try for this”.

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