Azad launching own party; restoring J&K special status on manifesto
Former Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad is all set to form his own political party, said his close aide GM Saroori. Saroori told PTI that the first unit of Azad's party is likely to be formed in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) within a fortnight. Saroori also claimed that Azad's party manifesto will include the restoration of Jammu and Kashmir's pre-August 5, 2019, special status.
- Severing his half-a-century-old association with the party, Azad resigned from the Congress and also relinquished its primary membership on Friday.
- Last week, he resigned from the post of chairman of two committees of the Congress's Jammu and Kashmir unit within hours of his appointment.
- A number of veteran Congress leaders have been resigning from key positions or quitting the party altogether of late.
Saroori stated that Azad's new party will work for the restoration of Jammu and Kashmir's pre-August 5, 2019, special status while also focusing on growth and harmony in all areas of society. Notably, the Centre removed the erstwhile state's special status under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, dividing the former state into two union territories in 2019.
Saroori further told PTI that hundreds of top Congress officials, Panchayati Raj Institution members, and workers had resigned after the former J&K chief minister abandoned his almost five-decade relationship with the grand old party. He, however, denied that Azad is working at the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) behest, claiming that the leader is philosophically secular, adding no such question exists.
"Azad is coming to Jammu on September 4 to hold consultations with his well-wishers before the launch of our new party," said Saroori, who is also a former vice-president of the J&K unit of Congress. On Friday, shortly after announcing his resignation, Azad also declared he would soon launch a new political party, with its first branch to be established in Jammu and Kashmir.
Five office bearers of the Congress's Jammu and Kashmir unit have quit the party in support of Azad following his resignation. Those who resigned include Saroori, former Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand, the vice-president of the state Congress committee Haji Abdul Rashid, and former state National Students' Union of India (NSUI) chief and current Anantnag district unit president Gulzar Ahmad Wani, among others.
Interestingly, Azad referred to Rahul Gandhi as "childish" and accused the leadership of attempting to "foist a non-serious individual at the helm" and sidelining senior leaders in his resignation letter. He also claimed the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) administration lost in 2014 due to Gandhi's conduct. He asserted the party's consultative mechanism was also dismantled, especially after Gandhi's appointment as Congress's vice-president in 2013.