Congress activists on Tuesday burnt an effigy of senior party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad here to protest against his praises for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and “antiparty activities. The protest was organised within days of Azad holding a mini-conclave of Congress dissenters (G23) and also praising Modi to harm the party in the ongoing campaign for the crucial assembly election for four states and a UT.

The protesters accused the Azad-led G23 leaders of “conspiring” against the Congress at the behest of the BJP and weakening the party for “personal gains”.

This is the first such protest against Azad, who is a former chief minister, and had a huge following in J&K. However, his statements against the party leadership have not been relished by the majority of his supporters and former ministers who were gradually distancing from him.

The protesters criticised Azad for praising Modi who, they pointed out, had snatched the statehood of J&K and downgraded it to the level of union territory (UT). They also criticised Azad for his “thankless” behaviour to the party leadership that had paved his way for entry into the Rajya Sabha several times and also nominated him chief minister of J&K during alliance with the PDP.

They also criticised senior leader and G23 member Anand Sharma, who they claimed, has not won even a panchayat election on his own in Himachal Pradesh but was now trying to dictate terms to the party leadership.

The protesters expressed faith in the leadership of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi and demanded strict action against the G23 leaders who recently assembled here and spoke against the party. Meanwhile, the J&K Congress chief GA Mir is learnt to have flown to Delhi to appraise the top leadership about the “open revolt” of Azad who held a closed door meeting with a faction of the Congress during his visit here.