Ghulam’s March Towards ‘Azadi’

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In a surprising move, senior most Congress leader and former J&K chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad resigned from the basic membership of the Congress party. He wrote a five page long letter in which he described his journey with Congress right from his youthful days about his working with several Prime Ministers including two from Gandhi family and also how he was being ignored along with other senior leaders and blamed Rahul Gandhi and his coterie for the entire mess in the Congress party even at the national level that has denied Congress – the grand old party with a history and legacy even the post of leader of opposition in the parliament as party failed to bag enough seats requirement for the post. Azad who was part of G-23 leaders’ resignation was long anticipated, especially when he started holding separate rallies in J&K without the local Congress leadership, instead the rallies were being organised by his loyalists in J&K. However, the trigger for the resignation from the party’s primary leadership became the announcement of Vikar Rasool Wani as the new president of Congress and various bodies were announced to prepare the party for upcoming polls. Even Azad’s name was announced as the head of the campaign committee. Within hours after the announcement, Azad refused to take responsibility and then came his resignation from the party which ended the long relationship of Azad with Congress.

Though it seems that Azad himself had prepared the panel of names for the new JKPCC president, post resignation of Ghulam Ahmad Mir. However, instead of choosing the number one, the panel announced the name of Wani who was considered close to Azad and many would say he is the right-hand man of Azad in J&K. Though Wani now says he was loyal to the party, not Azad. “My uncle and father were also with Congress. I am the third generation of my family with Congress and will remain loyal to the party, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi,” he said.

With Azad’s resignation came a number of resignations from J&K Congress including former ministers and legislators from both J & K; some of the loyalists even traveled to Delhi to exhibit support for Azad. “Without Azad Congress is nothing in J&K. So far 1500 people have resigned and more resignations will come,” said G M Saroori former minister and staunch Azad loyalists.

Infact many say Azad wanted Saroori as J&K Congress chief. Saroori who met Azad in New Delhi said that he will form a national party and its J&K unit formation is the top priority. “Azad is the only leader who can take J&K on the path of development. His tenure as the J&K chief minister will be written with golden words for development and job avenues which he created.”

He said Azad is coming to J&K on 4th September and there will be a good reception for the leader. “More joinings will take place.”

However, the Congress leadership has blamed him for ditching the party when his requirement was most needed for the party and many accused him of being in league with BJP and PM Modi…”He is now another team of BJP in J&K. We have already A and B teams of BJP on ground,” accused Congress working president Raman Bhalla. He said that Azad’s or other people leaving Congress will have no impact on the party.”The workers are with us who are ready to fight for the party,” he said.

Even some top leaders of the Congress now claim in a way his resignation will help the party in its revival. “Azad, despite being a big leader, will meet the fate of former CM Punjab Amrinder Singh. He during his time encouraged factionalism within the party. Now that factionalism will end and the real Congressmen will be seen in the party fighting for people not for personal issues,” said former president, G A Mir who along with other leaders are trying to put a brave face about reorganisation of the party.

Many political analysts see that Azad and his loyalists will be eyeing on the post of J&K chief ministership and if he is able to restore statehood of J&K using his personal influence with Prime Minister Modi, it could become a game changer and could give fillip to his party and workers. However, many say it isn’t easy to convince PM Modi so easily. Even the other leaders who are considered close to BJP too have criticised Azad. “He will be using the same language like other leaders of J&K,” said Apni party president, Altaf Bukhari.​​

As J&K is now preparing for polls which could be held early next year, it remains to be seen the impact of Azad in J&K’s political spectrum. Will he meet the fate of Captain Amrinder Singh or like Mufti Mohammad Sayeed he will be able to establish a new political party in J&K that will rule someday. And on the national arena all depends on who other political stalwarts will become part of his new national party, whether it will come into limelight or will go into oblivion after some months’ time will reveal.

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