Srinagar: The announcement by Ghulam Nabi Azad to launch a new political party is not a good news for National Conference (NC) also.
Azad outside Congress and that too with his new party is politically damaging for NC, which is intending to give a tough fight to the BJP and emerge as single largest party in the assembly elections by consolidating it's votes.
Whether or not National Conference will be able to do so in the fast changing ground and political situation will be known at election time.
But it is very important for the party that for becoming the single largest party, it has to get a good share of seats from Chenab Valley, where Azad is having his influence and from Rajouri and Poonch districts also.
The party leadership believes that arrival of new party on the scene can snatch some seats from its kitty and can lead to further division of votes among non-BJP parties. This all will particularly hit the electoral interests of National Conference.
On the other hand BJP leaders say that their vote bank is very much intact in Jammu division and they are trying to win seats in Kashmir Valley too this time and get the absolute majority against the wishes of sulking NC.
Already upset with increase of more seats in Jammu and redrawing of boundaries of other assembly constituencies during delimitation exercise, NC's problems have increased now with the departure of Azad from Congress.
Despite having good personal relations with him, top NC's leadership was keeping a close watch on his political activities especially after Prime Minister Narendra Modi showered praises on him when his term ended in Rajya Sabha some time back.
Now since Azad is out of Congress and is launching his own party, NC has no option but to oppose him and his party. After Azad's resignation NC President Dr Farooq Abdullah immediately described his move as "not a good decision at this time." It seems that the veteran leader feels that taking a stand against Azad can help his party in elections especially in Chenab Valley.
Azad's departure from Congress was very much certain and the only curiosity was when he will leave the party and what local political development will trigger such a move.
He resigned sometime after the Congress high command appointed Vikar Rasool Wani as new J&K PCC President. Initially there were reports that Vikar, who was being considered as right hand man of Azad, was appointed on his recommendation and that he was his first and last choice.
But it has now become clear that the new PCC Chief was the last among the names recommend by Azad. He had recommended Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed, Ghulam Mohammad Zaroori, Ghulam Nabi Monga and the last name was that of Vikar. Congress high command picked up the last name ( Vikar) and dropped others.
Sources in Congress said that Azad was expecting that Saroori would be made the PCC chief but it did not happen. This hurt him. Secondly, he was unhappy with him being made member of a committee in Congress, which was headed by a leader junior to him. So, he declined to accept being member of the committee.
While Azad's loyalists left Congress one after the other, Vikar told media that he will continue to be in Congress and strength it. The new PCC chief said his family's association with Congress is for decades and it will continue.
He indirectly criticised Azad's announcement to form a new party saying launching of more and more new parties in J&K will help BJP only in its aim to get a cake walk in government formation.
While Azad's resignation is a big jolt for Congress, his new party a problem for NC, it is now to be seen how effectively he is going to play his new political innings in Jammu and Kashmir.
Known for being very lucky in playing his cards in past, only time can tell whether Azad's this "Azadi" is better or worse than his previous "Ghulami", through which he achieved success after success to become a towering figure on the horizon of national and J&K politics for decades together. Even the Prime Minister in Parliament acknowledged and lauded his work, services and contributions.