The Congress’ central leadership cannot claim credit for the party’s victories as its electoral fortunes depend on state leaders, former Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said, according to The Indian Express.

Azad had resigned from the Congress on August 26 and launched a new political party in Jammu and Kashmir named Democratic Azad Party a month later.

The former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir said on Tuesday that nothing has changed in the party even after his resignation.

“Wherever other political parties, regional or national, have a stronger state leadership, there the Congress loses,” Azad told The Indian Express. “So in the Congress, the central leadership cannot claim that the party is winning or losing any state because of them. The central leadership has no impact in any seat. They cannot make anybody lose or win. It depends on how strong your state leadership is.”

Azad also said that even though he did not appreciate the suspension of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi from Parliament, he was not in favour of senior leaders, including chief ministers, accompanying him to the court in Surat. On Monday, several senior leaders of the party had joined the former Wayanad MP at Surat, where he filed an appeal against his conviction in 2019 defamation case.

The former Rajya Sabha MP also said that there was unlikely to be unity among Opposition parties ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

“I don’t think anybody now is nurturing national ambitions,” he told The Indian Express. “Maybe at some point of time some leaders had national ambitions. Everybody now thinks chew as much as you can digest. So, to be a national party in a huge country like ours, to have access to every region, even if they come together, to have access in every corner of the country is very difficult.”

In response, the Congress said that Azad has been “revealing his true face with each passing day”.

It also criticised Union Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, who quit the party in March 2020 to join the Bharatiya Janata Party. Scindia had recently alleged in a media interview that the Congress has no ideology except the one of being a “traitor”, according to PTI.

“Both Azad and Scindia have been huge beneficiaries of the Congress system and its leadership,” Congress General Secretary Jairam Ramesh said. “With every passing day, they give powerful evidence that this generosity to them was undeserved.”