The Padma Bhushan award for Ghulam Nabi Azad has sparked a Congress versus Congress spat in the famous old party once again. While the G-23 leaders thanked Azad for his achievement, senior politician Jairam Ramesh made a subtle jab at the party veteran. Mr. Ramesh retweeted the news that Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had declined the Padma award, saying that it is the right thing to do. He wants to be Azad rather than Ghulam.

Ghulam Nabi Azad is a key member of the G-23, a group of 23 leaders that wrote a letter to Sonia Gandhi requesting prominent and active leadership in the Congress as well as substantial changes. Ghulam Nabi Azad was praised by Congress politicians Kapil Sibal, Anand Sharma, and Shashi Tharoor, who are also members of the G-23. In a tweet, Shashi Tharoor congratulated Gulam Nabi Azad via a tweet and added that it is good to be recognized for one’s public service even by a government of the other side.

In the matter, Ghulam Azad has claimed to sources that the Padma Bhushan award he received from the Modi administration was national recognition and honor for public work, not a political reward. “A few petty critics” who sought to blame it on politics, Azad said, “just belittled themselves and those for whom they spoke or those who forced them to speak.”

Amid this, rumors were being circulated that Gulam Nabi dropped ‘Congress’ from his Twitter bio after being named for the Padma award. The senior Congressman stated that his Twitter profile had remained unchanged. Azad dismissed the rumors, which sparked speculation that he may resign from Congress to some malicious propaganda being distributed to cause confusion.

Meanwhile, the jib at Nabi comes at a time when Congress is in crisis over leadership concerns. Jairam Ramesh and Mr. Azad have separated into two groups. While party veterans have called for significant organizational changes and permanent responsible leadership, Mr. Ramesh has stood strong in his support for the Gandhi family.

It is noteworthy that Mr. Azad is the second Congressman to be honored with the Padma Bhushan. Pranab Mukherjee was awarded the Padma Vibhushan by the government of India, where he served as a minister, in 2008. In 2019, he was awarded the Bharat Ratna award also.