The Congress on Friday launched an all-out attack against Ghulam Nabi Azad after he resigned from the party, saying his "betrayal" of the party leadership reveals his true character and that his DNA has been "Modi-fied".
The Opposition party also linked his resignation to the end of his Rajya Sabha tenure and claimed the "betrayal" by Azad in these times shows that his "remote control" is in the hands of Narendra Modi and that the "love" between them had also been on display in Parliament.
"First Modi's tears in Parliament, then Padma Vibhushan, then the extension for residence. Ye sanyog nahi sahyog hai (It's not a coincidence, it's a collaboration)," Congress general secretary in-charge of communications Jairam Ramesh said in a tweet in Hindi.
The sharp attack by the Congress and its leaders came within hours of 73-year-old Azad quitting the party after nearly five decades of association with the grand old party.
Congress leaders said Azad's observations in the letter were more of a "personal vilification" targeting Rahul Gandhi.
A man who has been treated with the greatest respect by the Congress leadership has betrayed it by his vicious personal attacks which reveals his true character, Ramesh tweeted, adding that "GNA's DNA has been Modi-fied."
Talking to reporters, Ramesh said the contents of Azad's resignation letter were "not factual" and its timing was "awful".
"It is most unfortunate, most regrettable that this has happened, when the Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and the entire Congress party organisation, across the country is engaged in confronting, combating, fighting the BJP on issues of mehangai (price rise), unemployment and polarisation," Ramesh said while addressing a press conference on Azad's resignation.
The party's media department head Pawan Khera also lashed out at Azad and linked his resignation to the end of his Rajya Sabha tenure.
"People like Ghulam Nabi Azad should listen to the voice of Congress party workers. The man who spent one-and-a-half pages on the posts given to him by the party, says 'I did selfless service'. Great! Everyone should do such selfless service," Khera told reporters.
"What is this that as soon as your Rajya Sabha term got over, you became restless, you cannot stay without a post even for a second. It is a challenging time, everyone is fighting together and the party is being strengthened under Rahul Gandhi's leadership," he said.
"Who has contributed in weakening the party," Khera asked, and added that these are the people who have contributed in weakening the party and today they are saying the party has been weakened.
Claiming that every party worker is well aware of this "betrayal", Khera said the party workers know that the person who betrays the party in these times, "his remote control is in the hands of Modi".
"We have seen the love between Narendra Modi and Ghulam Nabi Azad, it was also seen in Parliament. That love has been manifested in this letter," he said.
Asked about the reference to an incident from 2013 when Rahul Gandhi had strongly criticised an ordinance brought in by his party-led UPA government, in Azad's resignation letter, Khera said Azad did not speak out then as he was holding a post.
"If you think it was wrong, you would have thought it to be wrong then also. Why were you silent then? That means you are selfish, your mouth gets shut before a post. Now you don't have a post and therefore you are speaking," Khera said.
"Now when he doesn't have a post he is reminded of all ideals and principles. It is because of you (Azad) that we have to struggle more, it is because of you that the party is in this situation," the party spokesperson said.
Congress sources also rejected Azad's reported criticism that he was not properly consulted before rejig of the Jammu and Kashmir's Congress unit.
Azad participated in four meetings at the party's 15 GRG 'war room' on Kashmir unit rejig with the last one being on July 14, sources said.
He recommended four names for the post of J&K unit chief out of which one was picked but he is still unhappy, a party leader said.
Azad resigned from all party positions, including its primary membership, ahead of the organisational elections, and accused the leadership of committing "fraud" on the party in the name of "sham" internal polls.
Delivering another blow to the embattled party that has seen a series of high-profile exits, including that of Kapil Sibal and Ashwani Kumar, in the recent past, Azad wrote a five-page no-holds-barred letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi detailing his grievances.
In the presser alongside Ajay Maken, Ramesh said the entire Congress organisation in the last couple of weeks has been involved in preparing for the 'Mehangai Par Halla Bol rally' at Ramlila Maidan on September 4, which will be addressed by Rahul Gandhi.
He said 22 press conferences have been scheduled across the country on the 29th of this month and the Bharat Jodo Yatra launch will take place on September 7 from Kanyakumari.
Finalisation of that launch is also going on and 32 press conferences have been scheduled across the country to project the message of the 'Bharat Jodo Yatra', he pointed out.
"So, at a time when every Congressman and every Congresswoman is involved in ensuring that the 'Mehangai Par Halla Bol' rally will be a success and want to be a Bharat Yatri, wants to walk along with Rahul Gandhi on this 3,500 km long Bharat Jodo Yatra, it is most unfortunate, most regrettable that at this point of time, we have had to read this letter, that has been released to the press," Ramesh added.