After Punjab, Rajasthan and Chattishgarh, now it’s a big blow to the Grand Old Congress Party in J&K. 20 senior Congress leaders quit the party in J&K; all are of Ghulam Nabi Azad camp. However, when asked about the development, Azad denied having any knowledge of resignations of J&K Congress leaders close to him and said that he have read the matter in newspaper. Though he never denied that the leaders who resigned are not close to him. Interestingly, days after 20 leaders of Ghulam Nabi camp resigned, in a sudden move Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi has dropped Ghulam Nabi Azad from the panel of the newly constituted disciplinary committee of the party. It is unfortunate because Ghulam Nabi Azad is the former Congress CM of Kashmir, a senior leader of Congress and the respected former leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha. But it was expected because in J&K Ghulam Nabi Azad becomes taller than Congress high command. And his re-entry or the rise of Ghulam Nabi Azad 2.0 into J&K politics was inevitable when Gandhi-Congress failed to have a solution for inner-party conflict, regional crisis and to make a united voice in National politics as well as in different states.
Congress was miserable to handle Punjab crisis with their ‘Dark horse’ who consider Pak PM Imran Khan as his ‘Bade Vaiya’, good in drama and lack of political maturity, Navjyot Singh Sindhu made Congress laughable in the country. Captain Amrinder showed the way; Jitin Prasad and Susmita Dev followed the wind quitting Congress with short notice. It seems Azad was waiting for the right time with many contradictions. For the last 6 months, he never became arrogant against Congress high command but was farm enough to put his contradiction with Gandhi family on Kashmir situation.
One month ago when Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “Government has failed to protect J&K,' Azad’s statement was in sharp contrast to the picture of J&K being portrayed by the High Command of Congress, as Azad said, "All were of the opinion that terrorism is under control in Jammu and Kashmir." The former Chief Minister of the valley, Azad said it after holding discussions with a delegation of Congress from 10 districts and 40 constituencies. A senior leader like Azad could sense months ago that the Congress workers in the valley and the Gandhi family are on a different path as of other states where Gandhi-Congress failed to understand the ground reality. So it was obvious for Ghulam Nabi Azad for rebranding his unavoidable political influence in the valley. However, Azad did not restrict his opinion only on J&K, like other political stakeholders but weeks ago showed his disagreement with his party colleague Salman Khurshid. Azad said that he disagrees with Khurshid who recently compared Hindutva to radical jihadist groups like ISIS and Boko Haram in his new book.
If the experienced and top intelligence sources in the valley are not wrong then Azad is going to form his party and would be the CM candidate in the next election of J&K. Now Azad is perhaps observing the flows in the meanders. He knows Hindu votes are going to be divided but it must be difficult for Abdullah and Mufti family (like Gandhi family) to hold their vote banks intact. Abdullah and Mufti, both are close to a certain community and have bitter relations with the central Government. On the other hand, Ghulam Nabi Azad, a man close to Kashmiriyat, a hardcore nationalist, having an undeniable huge political experience and strong image of secular credentials – must have a high possibility to bring peace and communal harmony in the valley as the next Chief Minister. Yes, of course with a very good understanding with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Ghulam Nabi Azad certainly not forget what PM Modi said to him earlier this year in Rajya Sabha. “We will not allow him to retire like this, We will keep him engaged,” PM said in his speech when praising Azad.
(This story was earlier published on Jammu and Kashmir's leading weekly tabloid Jazzbaat24 on 21 November, 2021)