Ghulam Nabi Azad today started a new political journey, a week following a four- decade association. Addressing a rally in Jammu, He said the people will decide the name and flag of his new party.
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Addressing his supporters at the Sainik Ground in Jammu, Mr Azad said he stands with the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The 73-year-old, a former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, had last week said he will launch a new party soon. The first unit, he said, will be in Jammu and Kashmir where polls are due.
Visuals from the rally showed a huge crowd greeting the former Chief Minister as he approached the venue. Mr Azad leaned out of his car to wave to the supporters. At the rally venue, he met his supporters and associates on the dais before taking the podium.
“I have not decided upon a name for my party yet. The people of Jammu and Kashmir will decide the name and the flag for the party. I’ll give a Hindustani name to my party that everyone can understand,” he told the meeting.
The party led by Mr Azad will have the option to tie up with the BJP or mainstream parties in Jammu and Kashmir such as National Conference or PDP. Mr Azad, however, said in an NDTV interview that there is “no question” of a tie-up with the BJP. “Neither they will get benefited, nor I will,” he said.
The 73-year-old leader quit the Congress days after he rejected a post in the party’s Jammu and Kashmir unit, saying his recommendations for appointments had been ignored. His exit prompted a mass exodus of Congress leaders from the party’s Jammu and Kashmir unit.
Following his resignation, the veteran leader targeted the Congress high command, accusing Rahul Gandhi of “childish behaviour” and immaturity and of letting a “coterie of inexperienced sycophants” run the party.
Mr Azad’s resignation comes ahead of the 2024 general election and follows several high-profile exits from the party, including those of former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, the party’s former Punjab chief Sunil Jakhar, and former Union Ministers Kapil Sibal and Ashwani Kumar.
The veteran leader was among the 23 senior Congress leaders, now referred to as G-23, who had written to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, calling for large-scale organisational reforms.
Mr Azad was Mrs Gandhi’s trusted confidante right from the time of Sitaram Kesri’s unceremonious exit as party chief in 2000. He was the party’s go-to man for any crisis situation. But all that changed after he joined the G-23 in pressing for changes in the party.
Following his resignation, Mr Azad met three leaders of the G 23 group — Anand Sharma, Prithviraj Chavan and Bhupinder Hooda. The three asked him why he quit, even after Mrs Gandhi announced internal elections for a new Congress president. Mr Azad claimed that his position had become untenable because of “palace intrigue” against him by a section of the Congress, according to Mr Chavan.