Mischievous propaganda, says Azad on speculation about future plans

Sibal, Karan, others welcome Padma Award to Cong leader

NEW DELHI, Jan 27: A day after he was awarded the Padma Bhushan, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and Congress veteran Ghulam Nabi Azad on Wednesday sought to scotch speculation about his future political plans.
Reports had claimed that he had changed his Twitter profile, but Azad, who has been critical of his party leadership and is the lone Congress leader to be awarded this year under the Modi dispensation, denied it.
“Some mischievous propaganda being circulated by some people to create confusion. Nothing has been removed or added to my Twitter profile. The profile is as it was earlier,” Azad said on Twitter.
Azad’s Twitter profile has nothing written on it and there is no reference to the Congress party.
In the age of social media, the Twitter profiles of leaders are keenly watched as many tend to change them before formally switching parties.
Azad, the former Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, is a prominent member of the G23 dissident leaders who have been demanding an organisational overhaul in the Congress and has faced backlash from a section of the party.
After the announcement of the Padma awards on Tuesday evening, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, while commenting on CPI (M) leader Buddhadeb Bhattacharya’s refusal to accept the award, said, “He wants to be Azad not Ghulam”.
Congress veteran and former Law Minister Ashwani Kumar came out in support of Azad and hit out at Ramesh, saying his criticism of Azad is nothing less than a “shameful innuendo” and does not do justice to the ethos of the Congress party.
“Congress Rajya Sabha Whip’s criticism of Ghulam Nabi Azad for receiving the Padma award is nothing less than a shameful innuendo intended to rob both the Award and its recipient of the deserved dignity.
“Such a mindset does not do justice to the dignitarian ethos of the Congress,” Kumar said in a statement.
Padma Bhushan to Ghulam Nabi ‘well deserved’, said Dr Karan Singh, a senior Congress leader and former Minister. In a statement today, Dr Karan Singh said, “If one of our colleagues is honoured he should be greeted with appreciation rather than snide remarks.”
Dr Karan Singh further said that “these National Awards should not become a subject of inter-party controversy, far less of intra-party ones” adding that he knows Ghulam Nabi for half a century.
“I have seen him rise through sheer dint of hard work, dedication and administrative ability to becoming a Cabinet Minister, both with P V Narasimha Rao and Dr Manmohan Singh,” he said.
Dr Karan Singh also recalled Azad’s contribution as Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha for seven years and said “he played a positive and constructive role in our Parliamentary system.”
Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal, who is also in the G23, said that it was ironic that the Congress does not need Azad’s services when the nation recognises his contributions to public life.
“Ghulam Nabi Azad conferred Padam Bhushan. Congratulations bhaijan. Ironic that the Congress doesn’t need his services when the nation recognises his contributions to public life,” Sibal said on Twitter.
Other members of the G-23 Anand Sharma, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Manish Tewari, Shashi Tharoor and Raj Babbar congratulated Azad for the Padma award, saying it was “well-deserved”.
“It is good to be recognised for one’s public service even by a government of the other side,” said Tharoor in a tweet.
Shiv Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedi also criticised Ramesh saying it shows one’s shallowness.
“Calling someone Azad for declining a national honour and Ghulam for accepting it, shows how shallow one’s thought is towards a national honour.
“This isn’t the first nor the last time that opposition leaders will be acknowledged for their work, please maintain that spirit and dignity,” Chaturvedi, who was earlier with the Congress, said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had showered praise on Azad during his farewell speech for the Congress leader in the Upper House and the latter had returned the sentiment.
Azad has recently travelled extensively in villages of Jammu and Kashmir and has received an encouraging response. He is again planning to visit Jammu and Kashmir in the coming days, sources said. (PTI)