Jammu, Aug 26: Inevitable, finally happened!
In a major jolt to Indian polity's grand old party Congress, one of its senior most leaders and the former J&K Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Friday resigned from “all the positions including the primary membership of the Indian National Congress (INC).”
In his acerbic five-page long resignation note sent to the AICC president Sonia Gandhi, however, Azad said that he had decided to “sever his half a century old association” with the party “with great regret and extremely leaden heart.”
Yet he did not sever his ties before tearing apart the top leadership in his inimitable manner, while specifying reasons behind his resignation which projected Rahul Gandhi as the main “villain of the piece.”
As a parting shot, while the former J&K Chief Minister chose to launch a 'direct, no-holds barred' offensive against Rahul Gandhi; he opted for a 'veiled assault' on AICC president, for whom he reserved some very “kind and appreciative” remarks also, probably as a balancing act.
Azad also seized the opportunity to target Congress’ ambitious “Bharat Jodo Yatra”, scheduled to be launched from next month saying, “The Indian National Congress has lost both the will and the ability under the tutelage of the coterie that runs the AICC to fight for what is right for India. In fact, before starting Bharat Jodo Yatra, the leadership should have undertaken a Congress Jodo exercise across the country.”
In the national polity, his resignation on anticipated lines triggered “verbal duel” between the representatives of official Congress and some of the leaders from Azad’s very own G-23, which too was duly mentioned in the resignation letter. His home-turf J&K saw a string of resignations from his loyalist JKPCC leaders as an after-effect.
REASONS WHY HE RESIGNED
Chiding Rahul Gandhi for his “immature leadership”, he mentioned that unfortunately after his entry into politics and particularly after January, 2013 when he was appointed as Vice President by AICC president, the entire Consultative mechanism which existed earlier was demolished by him (Rahul).
“All senior and experienced leaders were sidelined and a new coterie of inexperienced sycophants started running the affairs of the party,” he said.
PARTING SHOT AIMED AT SONIA GANDHI
In a very suave manner, he aimed a barb at party leadership as he mentioned, “Under your stewardship since 2014 and subsequently that of Rahul Gandhi, the INC has lost two Lok Sabha elections in a humiliating manner. It has lost 39 out of the 49 assembly elections held between 2014 - 2022.”
“Since the 2019 elections the situation in the party has only worsened. After Rahul Gandhi stepped down in a 'huff and not before insulting all the senior party functionaries who have given their lives to the party in a meeting of the extended Working Committee, you took over as interim president - a position that you have continued to hold even today for the past three years,” he said.
“The main reason worse still the 'remote control model' that demolished the institutional integrity of the UPA government now applied to the Indian National Congress. While you are just a nominal figurehead, all the important decisions were being taken by Rahul Gandhi or rather worse his security guards and PAs,” he targetted both Sonia and Rahul in one go.
DIRECT ASSAULT ON RAHUL GANDHI
While launching a direct assault on Rahul and his coterie, Azad did mention that in August, 2020 when he and 22 other senior colleagues including former union ministers and Chief Ministers wrote to AICC president to flag the abysmal drift in the party, the 'coterie' chose to unleash its sycophants on them.
“They got us attacked, vilified and humiliated in the crudest manner possible. In fact on the directions of the coterie that runs the AICC today my mock funeral procession was taken out in Jammu. Those who committed this indiscipline were feted in Delhi by the General Secretaries of the AICC and Rahul Gandhi personally,” he said.
He averred that instead of taking G-23 views on board in a constructive and cooperative manner, the members were abused, humiliated, insulted and vilified in a specially summoned meeting of the extended CWC meeting.
CONGRESS HAS REACHED POINT OF NO RETURN
Seemingly an oblique reference to the speculations of Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot being persuaded to take over as the AICC president, he stated that unfortunately, the situation in the Congress party reached such a point of no return that now 'proxies' were being propped up to take over the leadership of the party. “This experiment is doomed to fail because the party has been so comprehensively destroyed that the situation has become irretrievable. Moreover, the 'chosen one' would be nothing more than a puppet on a string,” he opined.
AZAD’S SUCCESS RATE
Azad in his resignation letter did not forget to mention that his success rate in the political responsibilities had been phenomenal.
“I have been the AICC General Secretary Incharge of every state and Union Territory of the country at one point of time or the other over the last thirty-five years. I am happy to state that INC won 90% of the states that I was in charge from time to time,” he mentioned.
“I am recounting all these years of selfless service just to underscore my life long association with this great institution that I also served recently as the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha for 7 years. I have spent every working moment of my adult life in the service of the Indian National Congress at the cost of my health and family,” he said.
AFTER-EFFECTS OF POLITICAL TREMOR IN J&K
In Azad’s backyard i.e., his home state, the development had triggered political tremors in J&K Congress in the form of string of resignations from his loyalists as an after-effect besides evoking myriad reactions from different political parties, given his giant stature in polity here.
By late evening, some of his trusted lieutenants including former legislators and ministers G M Saroori, Jugal Kishore Sharma, Haji Abdul Rashid, Mohd Amin Bhat, Gulzar Ahmad Wani, Choudhary Mohd Akram, R S Chib, Salmam Nizami, Naresh Gupta had already resigned from the primary membership of Congress in his support.
And the party, staring at a vertical split, was still counting.
However, the Jammu Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) leaders toeing the official line came out with a measured reaction, which though indicated angst also.
Former JKPCC president Ghulam Ahmed Mir though described Azad’s resignation as unfortunate yet alleged that it (resignation) was tendered as a pre-planned move.
“The departure of even a small time dedicated worker creates a void. And here a man like Azad Sahib, enjoying such a big and influential stature in the party, has resigned. Yes, of course, this has created a void in the party. Congress gave him everything; he was assigned all important responsibilities in the party. He was accorded significant positions of power both in party as well as in the government. His political stature was built up by the Congress to face the challenging or crucial situation being confronted by it (party) at present. But he resigned at this critical moment. So this (resignation) is unfortunate,” Mir said, in reaction to the developments as they unfolded in the day.
“The way resignation has been given, it seems to be a pre-planned move. It showed that it was part of a design which was already in place and today’s move was just a step forward in execution of that plan. We will have to wait and watch as to what will be his next move,” former JKPCC president said.
“Nevertheless, it will not be easy to come out of this shock. But at the same time the party in J&K has a large number of dedicated workers, leaders who are committed to the party’s ideology and follow the Nehru-Gandhi family with an unflinching sense of loyalty. I’m sure, they will be able to tackle the situation judiciously and provide the party and people - a leadership as per the requirement at this point in time,” Mir said.
JKPCC working president Raman Bhalla, while speaking to media persons after chairing a meeting of the party at JKPCC headquarter, said, “Azad Sahib has been a very tall leader of Congress and his contribution cannot be undermined. He has been part of power-politics for the last 40 years or so. As party workers, we respect him from the core of our heart.”
“But at a time when unemployment is at its peak; they are talking about inclusion of 25 lakh (non local) voters in the election lists and people here expected the entire rank and file of Congress to fight as one unit to meet their aspirations; this resignation has come as a bolt. This is untimely also as at present the AICC president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are away in connection with her (Sonia's) treatment. He could have waited for them to return before taking this move,” Bhalla said.
With regard to a question about the loss the party suffered in Azad’s resignation, Bhalla said, “Yes, Congress party is passing through a crisis. A leader like the stature of Azad Sahib should have been by the side of the party at this critical moment. Nevertheless, the entries and exits of the leaders from parties are a part and parcel of the politics. But Congress is a movement, which is following an ideology under the committed leadership of AICC president Sonia Gandhi,” he said.
As per official statement, the UT party unit held a preparatory meeting for the upcoming visit of Rajni Patil All India Congress Committee in-charge for J&K and also to welcome new JKPCC president Vikar Rasool in a function to be held on August 30.