BY JAVED BEIGH
The Congress party in Jammu & Kashmir is in a massive tumult. There is a huge infighting going on in its unit of the Union Territory of J&K. In a major setback to Congress party, at least 20 senior Congress leaders, considered close to former Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, resigned from their respective party positions, demanding change in the Party leadership in the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir.
Some of the prominent Congress Party members who resigned include former ministers G M Saroori, Vikar Rasool, Dr Manohar Lal Sharma, Jugal Kishore Sharma, Ghulam Nabi Monga, Naresh Gupta, Mohammad Amin Bhat, Subash Gupta (all former MLAs/MLCs), Pradesh Congress vice-president Anwar Bhat, and member of Kulgam District Development Council (DDC) and former district president, Anyatullah Rather.
Additionally, Congress’ Budgam district president Zahid Hassan Jan, former political advisor to CM Manzoor Ahmed Ganai, AICC member Engineer Maroof, vice-chairman of the party’s ST Cell Chowdhary Sohat Ali, Corporator Gaurav Chopra, district general-secretary Ashwani Sharma also resigned.
In their resignation letter, which was addressed to AICC president Sonia Gandhi, and copied to Rahul Gandhi, Rajni Patil, in-charge secretary for J&K, these leaders have made serious allegations that under the presidentship of Ghulam Ahmad Mir, Congress unit of Jammu & Kashmir is heading towards a disastrous situation. They also alleged in their letter that more than 200 senior Congress leaders, including former ministers, MLAs, MLCs, PCC office bearers, district presidents and AICC members have so far resigned from the Congress and joined other parties in past few months.
They also pointed out in their letter that the Congress has lost all elections one after another, including Parliament, DDC, BDC, Panchayats and Urban Local Bodies, and could not form even a single Council in Jammu and Kashmir. They even pointed out that even G A Mir himself lost in the parliamentary polls, and his son in the DDC elections, despite combined PAGD candidate in his home constituency of Kulgam.
All of this raises important questions on the health and future of the Congress party in the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir, given the fact that much before the rise of BJP in Jammu region, Congress was the only political party from mainland India that was not only a prominent political party of former state of Jammu & Kashmir, but a party, which also ruled the erstwhile state of J&K many times in the past.
Ghulam Mohammad Sadiq was the first leader from the Congress party to rule and govern the former state of Jammu & Kashmir, when he was appointed as the Prime Minister of the erstwhile state of J&K on February 29, 1960. He governed the former state of J&K for over a year, first as the Congress party Prime Minister of Jammu & Kashmir, and later as Chief Minister of the former state of Jammu & Kashmir till December 12, 1971. He was followed by Syed Mir Qasim, also of Congress party, who ruled the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir for nearly three years from December 12, 1971 till February 25, 1975 only to step down for Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah to take over as the Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir as head of J&K National Conference party following 1975 Indira – Sheikh accord.
Congress party did not return to power for next two decades, which were dominated by Farooq Abdullah led J&K National Conference, and rise of separatist militancy in Kashmir valley in 1989. It was the 2002 assembly election results that brought back Congress to power in the former state of Jammu & Kashmir.
The National Conference Party under Farooq Abdullah lost these elections, even though emerging as a single largest political party with 28 seats. It could not form the government due to lack of support from any other political party. This opened up the opportunity for alliance between Congress and newly formed People’s Democratic Party (PDP) of Mufti Muhammad Syed. Congress party with 20 seats and PDP with 16 seats entered into political alliance, wherein it was decided that PDP and Congress would alternatively rule the former state of Jammu & Kashmir for 3 years each. While Mufti Muhammad Syed of PDP served as Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir from November 2, 2002 to November 2, 2005, Ghulam Nabi Azad took over as Congress party Chief Minister of the erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir on November 2, 2005 and ruled for little over 2 years before PDP withdrew its support to the Congress party.
Congress party once again was part of the ruling coalition when it entered into political alliance with the National Conference, whose leader Omar Abdullah served as the next Chief Minister of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir till 2015. This time however, Congress party did not have its leader as the Chief minister of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir for half of the 6-year term.
Since 2015, however, the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir witnessed meteoritic rise of BJP in Jammu region, which shrank the political space for Congress party’s former Jammu bastion. Congress began rapidly losing support among Hindu Dogra community of Jammu region, that were its traditional supporters. BJP soon dominated the Jammu region politically by becoming the prominent party in the region, pushing Congress to second place.
Congress party, ever since the rise of BJP in Jammu region, has been in a steady decline both in Jammu region and Kashmir valley at all levels losing elections after elections at Lok Sabha.
Assembly, Panchayat and Municipal levels. Things have especially deteriorated for Congress party under the presidentship of Ghulam Ahmad Mir, whose initial tenure was for only 3 years, but has since been extended. There is a definite discontent and doubt in the Congress party’s Jammu and Kashmir’s unit regarding the capability of G. A. Mir to take upon the challenge posed by BJP, especially in Jammu region. The mass resignation by top Congress leaders is a reflection of not only the fight between G. A. Mir, who is believed to be Sonia Gandhi loyalist and lobby supporting Ghulam Nabi Azad, it is also a battle for returning Congress back to its glory in the former state of Jammu and Kashmir. Only time will tell as to who will succeed in this battle.
Javed Beigh is General Secretary of People’s Democratic Front.
The author be contacted on: email@example.com
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.