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G-23 cannot exist in any party except the Congress, says Rahul Gandhi

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The Congress leader reiterated that the new party chief should be chosen through the election route.

NEW DELHI Making his first public comments on the Group of 23 dissenters (G-23), former Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday asserted that such a group cannot exist in any other political party except the Congress.

In a virtual conversation with the faculty and students of US-based Brown University, moderated by of Professor Ashutosh Varshney, Mr Gandhi spoke on a range of issues including a question on whether it was time for the Gandhi family to step aside from the leadership position.

Also read: Congress overhaul: G23 letter writers retain positions and gain more

Talking about the inclusiveness nature of the Congress that allows conversations and negotiations, Mr Gandhi said, “For example, there are 20 people, a group of 23 people, who have a different view on the Congress. Do you think they could exist in the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party], BSP [Bahujan Samaj Party], Trinamool Congress?”

“No they cannot exist in any other party. The Congress says ‘look we don’t agree with you but the negotiations cannot stop’. It has to go on and that’s the nature of the Congress,” he said in response to a question from Leela Gandhi, a faculty member.

Also read: Congress rift widens with caustic G-23 meeting in Jammu

Mr Gandhi’s comment comes just weeks after the G-23 had held a show of strength in Jammu on February 27 as a sign of their defiance. Though the party didn’t comment on their Jammu meet, it sent a signal by not including most of the prominent G-23 members in the party’s star campaigners’ list for the upcoming elections.

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In response to another observation about the absence of a strong opposition to BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and if the Gandhi family should allow new leadership to flourish with the Congress, Mr Gandhi said that nobody in his family has been Prime Minister since 1989.

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Also read: Congress overhaul: G23 letter writers retain positions and gain more

“I have a role to play in the Congress party. I defend a particular ideological current in the Congress party and I believe strongly in that. I am certainly not going to say, ‘Ok thank you very much! I will now not defend this ideological position in the Congress just because somebody says I happen to be so and so’s son,” asserted the former Congress chief. He added that he is the only leader who takes on Mr Modi every single day.

The Congress leader reiterated that the new party chief should be chosen through the election route.

In the conversation that went on for one and half hours, Mr Gandhi talked about the change in the political discourse in India since 2014, loss of democratic institutions and the BJP’s control over the political narrative by controlling social media giants like Facebook and Whatsapp. Attacking the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), he compared the organisation with Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

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