Averted from the Gandhi family, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad was seen taking one more step in a direction that would bring him much closer to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. In what appeared to be a rare occasion, the Modi government opened the red carpet for Azad on Saturday as it invited him to a cultural gala event organized by the Ministry of Minority Affairs Union.
Colorful congress posters and banners were set up around the Ambedkar International Center, the scene where Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Minister of State (Independent Charge) Jitendra Singh welcomed the veteran Congressman, who was recently praised for his statesmanship. by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his farewell speech to the MPs leaving Rajya Sabha.
Saturday’s event was the second such incident in a series when the Modi government praised Azad, who is so far seen as a dissident from Rahul Gandhi camp.
Once a strong player of Rajiv Gandhi, Azad was not given another term in the Supreme Chamber. A few days back, Mallikarjun Kharge, considered close to the Gandhi family, was appointed as the Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha instead of Azad.
Posters of a Congress leader at an event organized by the Modi government were seen for the first time in the national capital. The audience at the Ambedkar Center was surprised to see Azad sitting with Jitendra Singh and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi in the front row of VVIP. Coincidentally, Singh and Azad both come from Jammu and Kashmir.
The event titled “Ek Bharat, Shresth Bharat”, a ‘Mushaira’ (Urdu poetry recital) organized by the government, officially recognized Azad as an honorary guest. Most Urdu poets, including Waseem Barelvi, a well-known figure in the Urdu literary world, also praised the Congress leader. Some other poets also mentioned the name of Azad by dais and addressed him their poetic recitals.
While Congress has not given any significant responsibility to Azad since he withdrew from Rajya Sabha, Saturday’s Mushaira is now being seen as an event which seems to have brought Azad closer to the BJP.
“Azad sahab is a real statesman, he could be the face of BJP in the Valley in the near future. A person like him commands respect across party lines,” said a BJP official present in the auditorium.
Earlier on February 9, Prime Minister Modi gave a tearful farewell to the Congress veteran, saying he respected Azadji as a “true friend” and would not let him retire, and would continue to take his advice. his.
Modi said it would be difficult for Azad’s successor in Rajya Sabha to match him as he has set very high standards as an MP and as Leader of the Opposition.
Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu also described Azad as a “sound mind in the public life of the nation” and someone who “speaks softly but conveys his point of view effectively”.
Modi’s emotional speech for Azad had led to speculation that the veteran congressional leader, sidelined by his party’s top command, could join the ruling party in the coming days.
READ ALSO: Opinion | Why Congress should not allow Ghulam Nabi Azad to retire
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