A day after the Group of 23 pitched for an "inclusive and collective leadership" in the Congress, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, one of its members, Thursday met Rahul Gandhi and the two leaders were learnt to have discussed a revamp of the party organisation, a key demand of the dissenters. The meeting is being seen as an attempt by the Gandhi family to reach out to the G-23, which has shown signs of increasing aggression on the leadership issue after Congress's abject loss in the assembly elections in five states. During the meeting that lasted around an hour and half, the they deliberated on the party's defeat in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur and Goa, sources said. Gandhi, a former Congress president, had called Hooda for a discussion on the political situation in Haryana.
However, amid calls by a section of Gandhi family loyalists for action against G-23 leader Kapil Sibal, who recently said the Gandhis should step aside and pave the way for someone else to take over the reins of the party, Hooda is learnt to have conveyed to Rahul Gandhi that such a step will be unacceptable to the grouping as Sibal had only spoken about strengthening the Congress. The G-23 has been persistently seeking a restructuring of the organisation since it first wrote to Congress president Sonia Gandhi in 2020 about it after of a string of electoral losses and the party's diminishing clout. After the meeting, Hooda, a former chief minister of Haryana, visited Ghulam Nabi Azad, the informal leader of the grouping, at the latter's residence. Hooda and Azad were learnt to have discussed "concrete proposals", the details of which were not immediately known, to strengthen the Congress.
The G-23 had made a strong pitch for "collective leadership" at its meeting here on Wednesday. Deputy Leader of the Congress in Rajya Sabha and another G-23 leader Anand Sharma also joined Hooda at Azad's residence where they discussed the outcome of his meeting with Rahul Gandhi. Later in the evening, Sibal also met Azad at the latter's residence. The grouping had, in a statement on Wednesday, said the "only way forward for the Congress was to adopt a model of inclusive and collective leadership and decision making at all levels." They insisted they want to strengthen the Congress and "not undermine it in any way." Rahul Gandhi's meeting with Hooda is significant in the context of the G-23 statement and the telephonic conversation Azad had with Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday. Sonia Gandhi had reached out to Azad ahead of the G-23 meeting. Sources said Azad is likely to meet Sonia Gandhi with the proposals soon and make a case for course correction in the party.