Srinagar- In a blow to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), its prominent Gujjar leader Choudhary Gulzar Ahmad Khatana has quit the party to throw his weight behind former Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad.
Gulzar, who was one of the influential PDP leaders from south Kashmir, has extended his support to Ghulam Nabi Azad-led camp on Friday in presence of former minister Peerzada Muhammad Sayeed.
“He has joined our camp,” Sayeed told a local news agency KNO.
Gulzar is son of Nizamuddin Khatana (former MLC) and he himself was vice-chairman of Gujjar Bakerwal advisory during PDP-BJP government with minister of state (MOS) status. Gulzar’s wife was candidate of PAGD from Larnoo DDC seat.
Gulzar’s exit is a big setback to People’s Democratic Party as he is considered as a serious contender for Kokernag assembly seat after it was reserved for Scheduled Tribes (STs).
“It is a setback to PDP. Apart from Congress, the PDP is the major loser in Kashmir because of Azad’s plans to float a new political party,” a political observer said.
According to the observer, Azad-led camp seems to be more focused on south Kashmir in the Valley.
“Most of the politicians from the Valley who have joined Ghulam Nabi Azad are from south Kashmir,” he said.
So far Peerzada Muhammad Sayeed (former minister), Muhammad Amin Bhat( former MLA) and Gulzar Ahmad (Shangus) have extended their support to Azad-led camp from south Kashmir.
With 34 percent ST population, Kokernag seat was reserved for the community by the three-member delimitation commission headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice (retired) Ranjana Desai.
Sharma Quits Congress
Meanwhile Congress leader and former legislator Ashok Sharma on Saturday wrote to party president Sonia Gandhi and resigned from the organisation.
The national coordinator of the All India Congress Committee’s ‘Vichar Vibhag’ and a memberof Pradesh Executive Committee, stated that he took the “painful” decision due to the “prevailing situation and unavoidable circumstances”.
His resignation came close on the heels of an ex-deputy chief minister, eight former ministers, an ex-MP, nine legislators and a large number of Panchayati Raj Institution members, municipal corporators and grassroots workers from across Jammu and Kashmir left the Congress to join the Ghulam Nabi Azad camp.
Azad, 73, ended his five-decade association with the Congress on August 26, terming the party “comprehensively destroyed”. He also lashed out at Rahul Gandhi for “demolishing” the party’s entire consultative mechanism.
In his letter, Sharma who had won the assembly elections from Kalakote constituency of Rajouri district in 1996, said, “I loved my party from the core of my heart and fought for building it at the grass-root level for decades together from smaller territorial units to many states of the country.”
Meanwhile, the Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party on Saturday expelled a senior leader for “anti-party” activities.
“Farooq Ahmad Khayal, provincial secretary Jammu has failed to fulfil the aspirations of the party despite repeated requests made to him from time to time. On the other hand, he has been found indulging in anti-party activities,” provincial president Manjit Singh said.
Expelling Khayal with immediate effect, Singh said the decision was taken in the interest of the party.
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