Congress sees a flurry of exits with members joining the Azad camp.


NEW DELHI: After veteran leader Ghulam Nabi Azad left the Congress last week, there has been a flurry of activity in a bid to form a new national party led by Azad. The new party will have its roots in the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, as claimed by Azad. However, exodus from the Congress has left the organisational structure of the Congress in J&K in tatters, as per senior leaders.
It is believed that Congress had made Azad so powerful in the state that now that he has exited with his flock, it has left Congress with a little politically, leaders aware of developments in the state said. Sources said, Congress had to shut its district office in the home district (Doda) of Azad. In Uri, former minister Taj Mahuiddin had made more than 1,200 members exit Congress.
Moreover, in Kashmir province, Congress is left with only one former MLA (Ghulam Ahmed Mir); all others have gone to the Azad camp. In Jammu province, the party is left with only two former cabinet ministers, Mula Ram and Raman Balla, who were brought into the centre stage by Rajesh Pilot and Ambika Soni respectively. In the process, a senior leader said, the party showed its dwindling organisational structure in the state after Azad’s exit.
Moreover, Azad, in a recent interview, also underlined the exodus the Congress has gone through in the state as he was seen quoting the accumulated percentage, “Around 60% Congress members left the party in the last few years, some went to the BJP, some to Apni Party and now the leaders are joining Aam Aadmi Party in the state.” A senior Congress leader said: “Now nobody is going to leave. Those who left were never Congressmen, they were working for one person, and that is Azad. These people have seldom attended any meeting from 2014. They have never participated in any protest. They have never followed any single programme of Congress. They were all followers of Azad Sahab.”
Political analysts and senior party leaders claim that none of those who left the Congress in Kashmir is going to win in Kashmir, due to the reduced political clout and image of old politicians who have remained out of politics for long. Furthermore, there is also a sense among people that Azad is backed by the BJP. In the 2014 Assembly elections, Congress had won 12 out of the then 87 seat Assembly. The Azad-led Congress had won most of its seats from the Kashmir valley with a tally of 8, while the party won one seat from Jammu and three from Ladakh. “Now there are chances that a new leadership will emerge in the state Congress,” a party leader said. The Sunday Guardian tried calling the state unit president, Vikar Rasool Wani, and working president Raman Balla to know the roadmap ahead for the party, but no response was received from either of them.