Several Congress leaders of the “Group of 23”, who had last year written to party chief Sonia Gandhi demanding an organisational overhaul, today strongly condemned the attack on Kapil Sibal’s house, calling it “orchestrated hooliganism”.
Congress workers protested outside Kapil Sibal’s house and reportedly damaged a car after he questioned the party’s functioning and attacked its leadership.
Senior leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Vivek Tankha and Raj Babbar were among those who rallied behind Kapil Sibal, with Anand Sharma asking the leadership to take strong action against those involved.
Former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh also criticised what he said was an “attack” because Mr Sibal “chose to express views that were not palatable to the party leadership”.
This does not augur well for the party, Amarinder Singh said, adding that it was unfortunate that the seniors are being “completely sidelined”, which is not good for the party.
Terming the senior Congressmen as “thinkers”, who were important to the future of the party, the former chief minister in a statement said the younger leadership should be promoted to implement the plans, which the senior leaders are best equipped to formulate.
Ghulam Nabi Azad, former leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, also strongly condemned the “orchestrated hooliganism” at Kapil Sibal’s residence.
“He (Kapil Sibal) is a loyal Congressman fighting for the party both inside and outside Parliament. Any suggestion from any quarter should be welcomed instead of suppressing, hooliganism is unacceptable,” tweeted Mr Azad, who along with Kapil Sibal is part of the “Group of 23” which last year had written to Sonia Gandhi seeking organisational overhaul of the party.
Former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said, “Orchestrated hooliganism outside Kapil Sibal’s residence last night is not the culture of the Congress.”
“If one has any difference of views, the same should be brought up and discussed at party forum,” he said on Twitter.
Asserting that differences in opinion and perception are integral to democracy, Anand Sharma, also a part of the G-23, said intolerance and violence is alien to Congress values and culture.
“Shocked and disgusted to hear the news of attack and hooliganism at Kapil Sibal’s house. This deplorable action brings disrepute to the party and needs to be strongly condemned,” Mr Sharma said in a series of tweets. He asserted that the Congress has a history of upholding freedom of expression. Those responsible must be identified and disciplined, Mr Sharma said.
“Urging Congress president Sonia Gandhi to take cognisance and strong action,” he said in a tweet.
Congress MP from Punjab Manish Tewari – one of the G-23 leaders – unequivocally condemned the attack and tweeted, “Those who masterminded the assault must bear in mind that he fights for @INCIndia both inside and outside courts of law. You may find his views uncomfortable but that cannot be a license for violence.”
In another tweet, he said, “Those who are trying to defend the “command performance” last night. This is what happened @KapilSibal’s house. They damaged the car. Stood on top, so it caved in. Threw tomatoes both outside and inside the house. If this is not hooliganism then what else is it”.
Responding to Mr Tewari’s tweet, Shashi Tharoor – also a G-23 leader – tweeted, “That is shameful. We all know @KapilSibal as a true Congressman who has fought multiple cases in court for @INCIndia.”
“As a democratic party we need to listen to what he has to say, disagree if you must but not in this way. Our priority is to strengthen ourselves to take on the BJP!” he said.
Also responding to Mr Tewari’s tweet, Congress leader Vivek Tankha tweeted, “Never to a person who has fought and saved so many Congress governments and persons and unmake opposition government.
“People may disagree with him. Even protest. But not damage his car. At least in my life I never encouraged or promoted hooliganism,” Mr Tankha said.
Another Congress leader Raj Babbar said, “Don’t unleash mob-power on ideological co-travelers – you will look more pitiful in front of ideological rivals.”
“Is criticising what happened outside Kapil Sibal’s residence not a part of Congress culture,” he asked in a tweet in Hindi.
Soon after he raised questions over the functioning of the Congress, Kapil Sibal on Wednesday came under attack with party workers also protesting outside his house in Delhi.
In the wake of several Congress leaders quitting the party and its Punjab unit in turmoil, Kapil Sibal has demanded that an immediate meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) be convened and wondered who in the party was taking decisions in the absence of a full-time president.
At a press conference, Mr Sibal said that the G-23 grouping is “not a Jee Huzoor-23″ and will continue to put forth the views and will continue to repeat the demands.
Carrying “Get Well Soon Kapil Sibal” placards and raising slogans against him, Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee (DPCC) workers had protested outside his Jor Bagh residence, saying they were “hurt” by his remarks. The protesters raised slogans against Kapil Sibal, asking him to “leave the party”. A protestor also stood on his car.