Group of 23, or G-23, is part of the Congress party and not a rebel faction, senior leader Mani Shankar Aiyar said on Saturday, India Today reported.

“G-23 is not a faction within the Congress, the faction narrative is fiction of the media,” he said. “We are part and parcel of the Congress. G-23’s target is not the Gandhi Family, our target is the BJP.”

The Group of 23, or G-23, comprises Congress leaders who have been seeking an organisational overhaul in the party since 2020.

Aiyar on Saturday said that Congress needed to strengthen itself as weaknesses had developed in the party over seven to eight years.

“BJP has to be stopped in its tracks”, he said. “We also recognise that the Congress is hardly in a position today to be able to take them on.”

The demand for organisational overhaul was reinforced after the Congress performed poorly in the recently-concluded Assembly polls in five states – Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. The party managed to win only 55 of the 690 seats across the five states.

Some of the G-23 leaders on Wednesday had met at former Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad’s home in Delhi to discuss the defeat in Assembly polls.

They declared that the “only way forward” for the Congress was to adopt a model of “collective and inclusive leadership and decision-making at all levels”.

Since the meetings, G-23 leaders have met Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi.

Aiyar on Saturday said that the meetings held between G-23 leaders and the Gandhi family had gone well.

“G-23 member Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s meeting with Rahul Gandhi was very cordial, with the former apprising the latter of the conclusions drawn at the grouping’s back-to-back meet-ups earlier this week,” Aiyar told India Today.

He added the former Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad’s meeting with Sonia Gandhi was a “harmonious exercise”.

“We are receiving very good hearing from the Congress leadership, i.e. the interim president and Rahul Gandhi,” he added.

Sonia Gandhi and party leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had offered to resign from their posts after Congress performed poorly in the Assembly elections.

On March 13, the Congress party’s working committee had held a meeting to review the party’s poor performance. The leaders also turned down the resignations offered by the Gandhis.