National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah on Sunday said that the Congress must unite and advised the party to set its house in order, reported the Hindustan Times.

Abdullah first refused to respond to the questions by reporters, saying that he has not made any statement about the Congress. “The point is what Rahul Gandhi is saying and what these G-23 leaders are saying... Why should I react to them?” he said. “I mean, what have I got to do with them? I am not saying any of these things which they are saying. It is for them to decide and set their house in order.”

However, moments later he said that the wanted the party to be strong. “I want the Congress to unite and fight the divisive forces of the country,” the NC chief added. “Congress must unite and must become strong. People look up to the Congress in trying to sort things out in the country. They are part of this nation and a 150-year-old party.”

On Saturday, a group of dissenting Congress leaders had held an event in Jammu. Party leader Kapil Sibal had said that the Congress was getting weak and needed to be strengthened. His statement was echoed by other Congress leaders present at the event.

Besides Sibal, the meeting was attended by former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, former Union minister Anand Sharma, Rajya Sabha MP Vivek Tankha, Lok Sabha MP Manish Tewari, party leader Raj Babbar and former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda. The are a part of the G-23 – a name given to a group comprising various dissenting Congress leaders who had questioned the party’s high command earlier.

In August, at least 23 Congress leaders, including Sibal, Shashi Tharoor, Prithviraj Chavan and Milind Deora, had written to Sonia Gandhi, asking for a complete revamp of the party’s organisation. Tharoor had also called for holding elections to appoint the party chief. He had, however, maintained that the elections should be held if Rahul Gandhi does not wish to take over as the party president.

In December, Sonia Gandhi had met the dissenters in a bid to address the crisis plaguing the party. Last month, it was decided that a new Congress chief would be elected in June.

On Sunday, Abdullah also spoke about the killing of the son of a popular eatery owner in Srinagar in a militant attack. “He was cremated today,” he said. “We have already reacted to it and it was very tragic. Those who shout from the top of the mountain that everything is hunky-dory here [in Jammu and Kashmir] and they bring the ambassadors to show them how good it is here, should answer for that.”

The NC chief said that if militancy is dead in the Union Territory, the lieutenant governor should answer questions about it. “The DG [director general] and police should answer who say every day that it is over.”

On February 17, alleged militants had attacked Krishna Dhaba in Srinagar’s Durganag area when 24 foreign diplomats were visiting the Union territory.