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Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar takes a dig at G-23 leaders

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Chandigarh, Feb 28: The public squabbling in the Congress intensified on Sunday with the party''s Punjab unit chief Sunil Jakhar hitting out at ''G-23'' dissident leaders and asking them to shun the "politics of opportunism".

Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar accuses G-23 dissident leaders of politics of opportunism

In a statement, the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president referred to remarks of party leaders Kapil Sibal, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Raj Babbar and Anand Sharma, made at a public event in Jammu on Saturday, and said those opposing reforms in the organisation were doing a great disservice not only to the party but also to the country.

"Come and join me in the protest which would be a refresher course for you all in raising the voice for the people we serve far away from the cozy environs of Rajya Sabha galleries," Jakhar said, referring to the Punjab Congress'' planned march to "gherao the Punjab Raj Bhavan against the spiralling prices of essential commodities". He said some senior party leaders were "indulging in politics of opportunities" that too at a time when every Congress worker is fighting the grave battle to save and preserve the idea of India "under assault from oppressive central regime".

Jakhar said the country needs the Congress to engage in politics of struggle to raise the voice of the common man on the street and urged these leaders to take up issues of the public.

The leaders are part of the dissident group which was given the moniker of G-23 after it wrote to party chief Sonia Gandhi last year demanding an organisational overhaul and internal elections for all posts in the Congress.

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Coming together on one stage, several of these leaders had on Saturday said that the Congress has weakened and they have taken it upon themselves to strengthen it.

Reacting to it, the party had said that these leaders should join the Congress'' campaign in poll-bound states and strengthen it, instead of becoming active against each other.

"Those raising their voice against reforms in an organisation which gave them the most potent platform to evolve as leaders, they are today are doing a great disservice not only to the party but also to the country," Jakhar said.

Disagreeing with Raj Babbar''s reported "Hum hi Congress hain" comment, Jakhar underlined the "Congress party is older than you and me" and its core philosophy has consistently been of public service only.

"No doubt, you are Congress," Jakhar said, adding that such comments do not behove a senior leader like Babbar.

On Ghulam Nabi Azad''s statement that he has retired from Rajya Sabha and not from active politics, Jakhar said that "retiring from the upper house never means retiring from politics. Rather, politics has begun now".

Referring to Sibal''s statement about the need to further strengthen the party, the Punjab Congress chief invited him to join him in working "for the people on the streets to make the party and the country stronger".

This is the time to be with the people, he said and expressed the hope that all these leaders would now come forward for the "politics of struggle" also.

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