One of the 23 Congress dissenters, Ghulam Nabi Azad on Sunday offered another explanation of the party’s recent slump when it comes to elections.

“The problem with our leaders is that if they get a party ticket, they first book a five-star hotel. Even there they want a deluxe place. Then they will not move without an air-conditioned car. They will not go to places where there is an untarred road,” he said while speaking with news agency ANI.

“Elections are not fought from five-star hotels… We can’t win until we change this culture,” he said.

“Many blame the leaders. The Congress president or Rahul Gandhi,” Azad said.

“They have lost their connection with people. The block leaders or district leaders. The moment someone gets a rank, they print their letter pads and visiting cards and think the job is done. But that is where the work begins,” he added.

In August, 23 top Congress leaders, including former Chief Ministers, MPs, former Union Ministers and CWC members wrote a letter to Sonia Gandhi on the issue of leadership change and elections in the CWC.

The letter called for an urgent need for “full time and effective leadership”, which is both “visible’’ and “active’’ and an “urgent establishment of an institutional leadership mechanism” to “collectively guide the party’s revival’’.

It had also asked for decentralisation of power, elections in the party at all levels and empowerment of its state units.

The letter is reportedly signed by many senior leaders of the party including Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Kapil Sibal, Manish Tewari, Shashi Tharoor Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Prithviraj Chavan, PJ Kurian, Renuka Chaudhary, and Milind Deora.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress leader AK Antony were the first to opine that Sonia Gandhi should continue till a new party president is elected. Antony termed the letter of “dissenting” Congress leaders as “unfortunate and cruel”.

An “upset” Rahul Gandhi, in his address, said he was “hurt” as the letter was leaked when the party was fighting the political battle in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

“Why was the timing of the letter chosen when Congress was fighting in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, when the Congress President was sick?” he questioned.

The former party president further accused the dissent letter writers of “colluding with the BJP.”

In quick response, Ghulam Nabi Azad said he will “resign if found to be guilty of colluding with the BJP”.

Apart from Ghulam Nabi Azad, three CWC members — Anand Sharma, Mukul Wasnik and Jitin Prasada — are signatories of the dissent letter.

Responding to Rahul Gandhi’s accusation, Kapil Sibal said the signatories have “never made a statement in favour of BJP on any issue in the last 30 years”.