After veteran Ghulam Nabi Azad’s exit, the Congress is facing an exodus in Jammu and Kashmir, his home turf. Around 100 leaders and party functionaries are set to resign today and join Mr Azad, who is planning to launch his own party.
Tara Chand, former Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister and several former ministers and legislators are among those quitting the Congress.
“Yes. I’m resigning from the Congress and joining Azad sahib” Mr Chand told NDTV.
On Monday, four Congress leaders, including the former Deputy Speaker of the Jammu and Kashmir assembly, resigned.
Mr Azad quit the Congress, his party of over five decades, on Friday, with a cutting resignation letter targeting the Gandhis, especially Rahul Gandhi, whom he called out for “childish behaviour” and “immaturity”.
Since then, over a dozen key leaders of the Congress, including former ministers and legislators have quit and announced their support to Mr Azad.
A large number of Panchayat members and workers have also said they back Mr Azad.
Mr Azad claims 95 per cent party workers, Panchayat members and district development council members of the Congress in Jammu and Kashmir have joined him.
Stung by the mass exits, the Congress unit in Jammu and Kashmir has attacked Mr Azad and said he will go the way of Amarinder Singh, another Congress veteran who quit and launched his own party but lost in the Punjab election.
The difference, however, is that Amarinder Singh was isolated after the Congress sacked him and few party leaders joined him; Mr Azad has literally taken the Congress away with him in J&K, his supporters say.
“Those who left the party, we consider them as scrap that is gone now. We will bring new faces with new vision,” said Vikar Rasool, J&K Congress chief.
Mr Azad, in an interview to NDTV yesterday, confirmed his plan to launch a party and ruled out any collaboration with the BJP.
“No, because either will they benefit from me, nor will I benefit. Their vote bank, need not be said, is a particular vote bank. My vote bank is another particular vote bank,” Mr Azad said.
There is “no question” of aligning with the BJP in Jammu and Kashmir, he asserted.
“If somebody knows the ABC of Jammu and Kashmir, they would have realised that neither the BJP nor I will get any benefit if I align with the BJP,” said the former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister.