During recent J&K organizational reshuffle, majority of his suggestions were ignored by Rahul Gandhi.
New Delhi: After the tenure of Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad ended in February 2021, the Congress has sent eleven of its leaders to the Rajya Sabha since then. Of these 11, one was nominated in September 2021, while 10 others were nominated this year. Now there is no vacancy in the Rajya Sabha (RS) for the next one year.
The resignation of the 73-year-old Azad, who had been a Congress member of Rajya Sabha for an unprecedented five terms and been in either Houses of the Parliament since 1980 (except for nearly three years when he became Jammu and Kashmir CM from 2005-2008) which includes two terms in the Lok Sabha and five in the Rajya Sabha, should be read in the context of the party leadership deciding not to nominate him again to the Rajya Sabha. Sources in the party and in Jammu and Kashmir said that Azad was “extremely” hopeful that he will be sent to the Rajya Sabha in mid-2022—when the elections for Rajya Sabha were to be held and in which Congress was expected to win at least 10 seats—given his stature and more than four decades of being in Parliament. Sources close to him said that he wanted “one last term” of the Upper House before calling it quits from the party. However, when the list of the candidates was released, Azad discovered that while other “rebel” G-23 leaders like Mukul Wasnik and “weak” candidates were given the party ticket, his name was missing from the list. According to party leaders, he was told beforehand that he would not be nominated again.
Following this, to put pressure on the party leadership, multiple rallies that were organized by his close supporters were taken out in Jammu and Kashmir, demanding that Azad be sent to the Rajya Sabha again.
What added to his 18-month-old anger (which sources close to him say started building after his term ended in February 2021) was that during the recent Jammu and Kashmir organizational reshuffle, majority of his suggestions regarding who to appoint in the state were ignored by Rahul Gandhi, whom he has called as the de-facto party president in his five-page no-holds-barred resignation letter that is filled with remarks against Rahul Gandhi.
These appointments, sources said, confirmed Azad’s understanding that the party was looking beyond him both at the national and at the state level. Before resigning from the primary membership of the party on Friday, Azad on 17 August had resigned from the post of campaign committee and from the political affairs committee of Jammu and Kashmir within hours of the said appointments being made official by the party.
“Before Azad, other senior leaders have resigned in the recent past, including Kapil Sibal, who refused to speak out against the party by stating that the party had given him a lot in the past. Sibal also never passed personal remarks against any leader. What Azad has done is ‘below the belt’, it is like back stabbing someone just because he did not accept your desires to let him stay in power. Azad was among the few leaders who was always nurtured by successive party presidents. However, what can we say now, he has lost our respect because of the acrimonious manner in which he decided to break his ties with us,” a senior Congress leader who is counted among the close friends of Azad told The Sunday Guardian.
According to Congress sources in Jammu and Kashmir, Azad is likely to float a regional outfit in the state in view of the impending Assembly elections and damage the Congress and its allies which will also ensure political profits for the BJP in the state.