Srinagar- The return of seasoned politician Ghulam Nabi Azad to Jammu and Kashmir’s political landscape has created ripples among other mainstream parties, as over a dozen leaders from Congress and Apni Party have pledged their allegiance and support to the former J&K Chief Minister, while many more are expected to join his caravan in the coming days.
Azad, 73, who announced the end to his five-decade association with Congress, last week in a hard-hitting resignation letter, had blamed Rahul Gandhi for comprehensively destroying and demolishing the party’s entire consultative mechanism. His resignation came at a time when preparations were underway for the conduct of assembly polls in J&K, first time after it became a Union Territory after abrogation of special status in August 2019.
At the same time, Azad’s resignation has unnerved the regional political parties including the new fronts created post abrogation of Article 370.
Salman Nizami, Political Secretary of Azad told Kashmir Observer that all those leaders who believe in the “idea of secularism” will be welcomed by the veteran leader.
“After launch of our party, we will welcome anyone who believes in secularism. We will work with them in future,” Nizami, who also resigned from Congress in support of Azad, said.
Nizami further said that the new party will profile the leaders before giving them a mandate to contest forthcoming J&K assembly polls.
“We will prefer former MLA’s and will form a government in J&K,” he said.
It may be noted that over a dozen former Congress legislators and ministers from J&K have resigned from the basic membership of the party in support of Azad.
Among them are former ministers GM Saroori, RS Chib and Jugal Kishore Sharma, and former legislators Choudhary Akram, Mohammad Amin Bhat, Gulzar Ahmad Wani, Haji Abdul Rashid Taj Mohiuddin and Naresh Gupta.
On Monday, three more Congress leaders, including former deputy speaker Gulam Hyder Malik, announced their resignation from the party on Monday in support of veteran politician Ghulam Nabi Azad.
According to Nizami, Azad wants to work for the welfare of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and is not “power hungry”. He further said that the leaders are joining Azad of their own free will.
“Azad Sahab didn’t even approach his close MLAs. The leaders are coming to his support out of love and respect. His stature is very high and has a lot of acceptance among the people of the Valley,” he added.
Rejecting the accusations of regional political parties that Azad was “BJP sponsored”, Nizami said the former J&K Chief Minister’s resignation and his announcement to launch a new party has rattled the political parties in J&K.
“That is why they are coming-up with such allegations that BJP has sent Azad Sahib so that they get benefited. We have made it very clear that we won’t join any communal force,” Nizami added.
Earlier, Apni Party president Syed Altaf Bukhari described Azad as “A team” of BJP and held him responsible for abrogation of Article 370. Bukhari’s outburst was followed by 12 members of Apni Party switching sides and joining Azad.
The members include, Asgar Hussain Khanday, District President Apni, Party Doda. Verinder Kumar District Gen Secretary, Promila Sharma, Vice President Mahila Morcha Apni Party, Mushtaq Ahmed Hajam, Block President Apni Party Thatri.
Most of these members are from the Doda region.
Among other leaders of the party who have resigned from Apni Party include Javed Ahmed Bhat, Ghulam Hussain Zargar, Ashiq Hussain Butt, Nisar Ahmed Zargar, Abdul Kabir, and Mohammed Ashraf.
Nizami said almost all the political parties have worked with the BJP from time to time and they have no moral authority to talk on this issue.
“Let me tell you, even if our party is yet to be born, we are getting hundreds of calls from other political leaders who want to join,” Nizami added.
Meanwhile, the newly appointed Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) chief, Vikar Rasool Wani on Monday lashed out at Azad and accused him of playing “immoral politics”
Talking to media persons at the party headquarters here, Wani said that anyone who wants to leave Congress can go and those who want to stay are welcome and they will be the pearl for the party.
“In my political career, I have never seen such immoral politics from anyone,” Wani said, terming Azad’s resignation after 50 years of affiliation with the party as “disheartening”.
Supporters Hold Meeting In Jammu
Meanwhile several leaders and activists, who resigned from the Congress following in Ghulam Nabi Azad’s footsteps, met under former minister G M Saroori’s leadership to ramp up support for the senior leader in his next endeavour.
“Over 500 prominent Congress leaders and workers, including corporators, panchayat members and block-level leaders, have resigned from the party in support of Azad. The meeting was convened to send a message that we all are with Azad,” Saroori SAID.
“In the coming days, you will see political stalwarts across the country strengthening the hands of Azad by becoming members of his party. Since Jammu and Kashmir is likely to go for assembly elections after the completion of a special summary revision of electoral rolls on November 25, the focus of Azad is here,” he said.
Saroori, a former vice president of the Congress state unit, said the new party will contest in all the 90 assembly seats and “we are confident that Azad will be the next chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir”.
He said the doors of the new party would be open to all secular-minded people and parties.
Former legislators Haji Abdul Rashid, Mohammad Amin Bhat, Gulzar Ahmad Wani and Choudhary Mohd Akram were present in the meeting, which saw several new faces including former advocate general Mohammad Aslam Goni joining the Azad camp.
Azad, 73, a former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, ended his five-decade association with the Congress on Friday, terming it comprehensively destroyed and lashing out at Rahul Gandhi for demolishing its entire consultative mechanism.
Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir BJP president Ravinder Raina said his party is capable of winning the next assembly elections on its own strength.
“Azad’s resignation exposed Congress leadership…what he is going to do next is his own decision. If he has decided to float his own party, nobody can stop him, he said.
Raina said the BJP is not going to have any pre-poll alliance with any party as we are capable of winning the elections on our own strength. We will win 50-plus seats and the next chief minister will be from BJP.
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