Aasha Khosa/New Delhi
The resignation of veteran Ghulam Nabi Azad from Congress is a setback to the party as it comes close to its 'Bharat Jodo' campaign, reports about the Gandhi-Nehru willingness to make way for a new leader, and most importantly, the forthcoming elections in J&K.
Azad holds the distinction of being the only Jammu leader to have ever become the chief minister of the erstwhile State. Though his resignation was not so unexpected, his direct blame for the dwindling fortunes of Congress on Sonia and Rahul Gandhi should come as a shocker for the Congress.
Speculations are rife about the timing of Azad’s resignation as it happened a couple of months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi openly displayed his longstanding bond and personal relationship with the Congress leader during the latter’s farewell in the Rajya Sabha.
Modi had become emotional while speaking about their close association despite being in politically opposite camps. Azad also reciprocated with his emotional speech and spoke about how concerned Modi had always been for him.
Though Azad has been a member of the G23, a lobby group within the Congress that had been wanting open elections in the party and a new leadership, his resignation should send cheers to the BJP.
Azad is a veteran who joined Congress in the decade of seventies. He was handpicked by Sanjay Gandhi during a rally in the Doda district and moved to Delhi where he became close to the Nehru-Gandhi family. Although he mostly remained in New Delhi, he moved to Kashmir reluctantly when he was asked to become the chief minister of J&K in November 2005 for a three-year period under a power-sharing arrangement with PDP.
Congress was ditched by its alliance partner PDP that pulled out support on the issue of the alleged land transfer for the pilgrimage of Amarnath shrine which led to a total polarization along communal lines in the former State.
However, in the light of the crucial elections in the Union Territory of J&K post the August 5, 2019 decision to change the status of the erstwhile state and the poor state of the Congress party, if Ghulam Nabi Azad forms his party or lends his support to any group, it could change the politics of the state.
Congress in J&K has remained headless for a long time and it has no plans or strategy to contest elections in J&K. BJP is strong in Jammu while the Congress party has traditional pockets of support both in Kashmir and Jammu. As the Congress was clueless about its plans and leadership, it weakened leaving a huge political space for the new political forces like the Apni Party of Altaf Bukhari in Kashmir.
The image of Azad as a Muslim leader that fits the bill of a Secular Indian as against the leaders of Kashmir who are yet to reconcile to the changed political scenario in J&K suits the BJP’s future plans for the border region.