‘Playful propaganda’, says Azad after speculation over political plans

A day after receiving the Padma Bhushan, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and Congress veteran Ghulam Nabi Azad on Wednesday sought to quell speculation about his future political plans. Reports had claimed he had changed his Twitter profile, but Azad, who has criticized his party’s leadership and is the only Congress leader to be awarded this year under the Modi dispensation, denied it. “Malicious propaganda spread by some people to create confusion. Nothing has been deleted or added to my Twitter profile. The profile is as it was before,’ 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, leaders’ Twitter profiles are closely watched, as many tend to change them before officially switching parties. Azad, the former opposition leader to Rajya Sabha, is a prominent member of the dissident G23 leaders who have demanded an organizational overhaul of Congress and 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 and not Ghulam.” Congress veteran and former justice minister Ashwani Kumar has come out in support of Azad and denounced Ramesh, saying his criticism of Azad was nothing short of a “shameful insinuation” and did not render justice to the philosophy of the Congress party.

”The Congress Rajya Sabha Whip’s criticism of Ghulam Nabi Azad for receiving the Padma award is nothing short of a shameful insinuation meant to deprive both the award and its recipient of deserved dignity. “Such a mindset does not do justice to the worthy ethics of Congress,” Kumar said in a statement. Senior Congressman Kapil Sibal, who is also part of the G23, said it was ironic that Congress did not need Azad’s services as the nation recognizes his contributions to public life. “Ghulam Nabi Azad bestowed Padam Bhushan. Congratulations bhaijan. Ironic that Congress doesn’t need his services as the nation recognizes his contributions to public life,’ Sibal said on Twitter. Fellow G-23 members Anand Sharma, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Manish Tewari, Shashi Tharoor and Raj Babbar congratulated Azad on the Padma award, saying it was “well deserved”. “It’s good to be recognized for public service even by a government on the other side,” Tharoor said in a tweet.

Shiv Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedi also criticized Ramesh saying it shows his superficiality.

“Calling someone Azad for refusing a national honor and Ghulam for accepting it shows how shallow a person’s thinking is towards a national honor.

“This is not the first nor the last time opposition leaders will be recognized for their work, please maintain that spirit and dignity,” said Chaturvedi, who previously served in Congress.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had praised Azad during his farewell speech for the Congress leader in the Upper House and the latter returned the sentiment. Azad has traveled extensively to villages in Jammu and Kashmir recently and has received an encouraging response. He plans to visit Jammu and Kashmir again in the coming days, sources said.

(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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