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Cong leaders shower praises on Azad, say he has major role to play in coming months

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Jammu, Feb 27: Several Congress leaders on Saturday praised party colleague Ghulam Nabi Azad, who retired from the Rajya Sabha recently, with Manish Tewari saying the veteran leader has a major role to play in the coming months as the nation is facing a "threat" to its identity from the ruling BJP.

Ghulam Nabi Azad

Azad retired from the Upper House of Parliament on February 15.

"When this country is facing a threat and attempts are being made to change its identity, we need a leader like Azad and his guidance to take the ship of this country to the shore," Tewari said at a function organised by the Gandhi Global Family here.

"The time has come when progressive, nationalist and secular forces should come together on a single platform. Azad has a major role in this," he said.

The former Union minister said senior Congress leaders are here on the invitation of the Gandhi Global Family to thank Azad, who has held high posts and served the country and the party at various levels over the past four decades.

"Azad is a dedicated Congress party worker and it is not wrong to say that he is the among a few who understand the party as he had been in charge (of party affairs) of various states," Tewari said.

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Launching a scathing attack on the BJP-led government at the Centre, he said it is responsible for the prevailing situation in the country due to its alleged misrule over the past six-and-a-half years.

"Jammu and Kashmir was hit hard by its unilateral decision on August 5, 2019. It has never happened in the history of the country that a full-fledged state was bifurcated into Union Territories. J&K has a golden history and is the crown of India and we promise to fight for the restoration of statehood to it," the Congress leader said.

He claimed that the Centre''s move was "against the Constitution and justice".

In his address, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said questions are being raised as regards "why are we here".

"We live in India and it is our right to go anywhere in the country. We do not need permission from anyone. We have come here to give a message that with a person with whom we have spent over 40 years, we are with him," Sharma said.

However, he said, "We have raised our voice to improve the health of the party and strengthen it so that the youth join the party."

"We have seen good times and do not want to see the decline of the party as we grow older. We will take the political fight from Jammu to Nagpur and will fight it together," Sharma said, adding those who are attempting to mislead the public and create a wrong notion should note that "Congress is our identity and we are the identity of Congress".

"We have given our prime to the party and walked a long distance. None of us was dropped by a parachute and we used the doors to enter the party instead of the window. We will strengthen the Congress and become the hope of the people, India will reach new heights," he said.

Showering praises on Azad, Sharma said nobody should be of the opinion that his career is over with his retirement from the Rajya Sabha.

"This was not the right time to retire him from the Rajya Sabha as the country is faced with challenges. We feel the pain of Jammu and Kashmir and will continue with our fight to ensure that the erstwhile state gets its statehood back," he said.

He said this is for the first time after 1950 that the Rajya Sabha has no representative from Jammu and Kashmir after the retirement of Azad.

"The Jammu and Kashmir assembly election has not taken place and none of its representatives has been elected to the Rajya Sabha," he said.

Taking a dig at the BJP, he said India cannot be run on a single ideology.

Another Congress leader Raj Babbar said there are some who are terming them as "G-23" leaders.

"I am saying we are Gandhi-23 and the Congress leaders are with the ideology of Gandhi," he said.

"This G-23 wants a strong Congress and we are determined that Gandhi-23 will work to ensure the party''s victory in the upcoming elections in different states," Babbar said.

"The journey of Azad has not finished. It has not even not reached the half-way mark. We need the support of every Gandhian and Congressman to ensure that Azad completes his journey," he said.

Senior Congress leader and former Haryana chief minister Boopinder Singh Hooda described Azad as a nationalist by core.

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