Hours after he was appointed chairman of the Congress’s campaign committee and a member of political affairs committee in the party’s Jammu and Kashmir unit, Ghulam Nabi Azad on Tuesday declined both posts, leaving the party red-faced.
Azad, a leader close to him said, felt insulted and humiliated.
“He is a member of the political affairs committee headed by (Congress chief) Sonia Gandhi. It is strange to include him in a similar committee in a state (UT) as a member. These are mindless decisions,” a leader said.
The development comes on a day the All India Congress Committee (AICC) appointed Vikar Rasool Wani, considered close to Azad, as J&K unit president and Raman Bhalla as working president — it comes days after former J&K unit chief G A Mir quit, following open revolt by Azad loyalists in the Union Territory.
According to a senior Congress leader, appointing Azad as head of the campaign committee of a UT was also insulting. “He had been a minister with four Prime Ministers in five governments; he was Leader of Opposition (in Rajya Sabha) for seven years. A former chief minister, he is in the Congress Working Committee for the last 37 years; has been in charge (of the party) in every state,” a senior Congress functionary said. “And now those sitting in the AICC are appointing him as campaign committee chief of a UT…”
Congress general secretary K C Venugopal on Tuesday issued the list of new UT officer-bearers.
Senior party leader Tariq Hameed Karra — a leader from Kashmir Valley — has been made vice-chairman of the campaign committee, and G M Saroori, an Azad loyalist, its convenor.
Karra has also been made chairman of the party’s UT political affairs committee, which has, among others, former Union minister Prof Saifudfin Soz as its member. Soz has been made chairman of the manifesto committee and senior advocate M K Bhardwaj its vice-chairman.
Significantly, Vikar Rasool and Raman Bhalla, both former ministers and two-time MLAs from Banihal and Gandhi Nagar Assembly constituencies, respectively, come from Jammu region, and this is the first time in Congress’s history in J&K that both its president and working president are from Jammu. The move is expected to step up infighting and widen the wedge between party leaders based in Jammu and those in the Valley.