After quitting the Congress party, veteran politician Ghulam Nabi Azad (73) is building a mega plan to play his next innings. Azad parted ways with Congress and ended his 50-year-old ties with the party. In his letter to Sonia Gandhi, Azad has unleashed serious charges against the party, particularly against Rahul Gandhi whom he blamed for the party's defeat in the 2014 general elections.
Ghulam Nabi Azad on Friday announced that he is going to float a new political party and that his new political journey will begin from his home turf of Jammu and Kashmir. The first unit of the party would be set up in Jammu and Kashmir and as the elections are likely to be held, he is planning to contest in the polls. He hasn't announced the exact period of when he would launch the party.
His announcement has sparked national attention and speaking to PTI, Azad said, "I am in no hurry as of now to launch a national party but keeping in mind that elections are likely to be held in Jammu and Kashmir, I have decided to launch a unit there soon." By refusing to comment further on his new party, Azad said, "I have thought about this decision for long and there is no going back."
A day after Azad resigned from the primary membership of Congress, Jammu and Kashmir's former youth Congress president Amin Bhatt on Saturday said that Ghulam Nabi Azad will be the next Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir. Bhatt, who was also a former MLA, said, "We will discuss the way forward, we are not a B team of the BJP."
Azad's exit has come as a shock to the Congress party as he quit the party ahead of the leadership transition and ahead of Rahul Gandhi's Bharat Jodo Yatra. Azad was part of the G23 group where these 23 leaders of the party were criticizing the Gandhis' leadership and pitching for a change. Kabil Sibal was also part of this group and he resigned from the Congress party months back and now Azad has given up all the party roles and has quit the party.
According to reports, if Azad forms a new party, he will be allying with regional parties in Jammu and Kashmir and it wouldn't be a surprise if he partners with the BJP to defeat the Congress as Azad is the significant face in the erstwhile state. It has been reported that as Azad enjoys a good rapport with the leaders of opposition parties, he received invitations from the parties like the Trinamool Congress and Sharad Pawar's NCP after his Rajya Sabha membership ended last year.
During his farewell from the Rajya Sabha, Azad broke down into tears after praise that came from the other side of the aisle and it was from none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Modi commended Azad for his service. By describing Azad as a true friend, the Prime Minister said, "I would not let you (Azad) retire, I will continue taking for advice. My doors are always open for you."
After a year, Azad has found time to express what has been brewing inside him about the Congress party. In a long resignation letter, Azad praised Sonia Gandhi and blamed Rahul Gandhi for the party's defeat in the 2014 national elections. The veteran leader has slammed Rahul Gandhi for his immaturity and for demolishing the consultative mechanism in the party. Azad noted that after the entry of Rahul Gandhi into politics and particularly after January 2013, when he was appointed Vice President by Sonia Gandhi, the entire consultative mechanism which existed earlier was demolished by him.
Azad further wrote, "Congress has lost will and ability under the tutelage of the coterie that runs All India Congress Committee (AICC)." In a five-page letter to Sonia Gandhi, Azad took a jibe at Rahul Gandhi's way of working. He cited that before starting a 'Bharat Jodo yatra', the leadership should have undertaken a 'Congress Jodo yatra'. "Unfortunately, the situation in the Congress party has reached such a point of no return that now proxies' are being pepped up to take over the leadership of the party", Azad added.
About Rahul Gandhi, Azad wrote, "One of the most glaring examples of this immaturity was the tearing up of a government ordinance in the full glare of the media by Rahul Gandhi...This 'childish' behaviour completely subverted the authority of the Prime Minister and the government of India. This one single action more than anything else contributed significantly to the defeat of the UPA government in 2014." He noted that Congress has suffered a string of humiliating poll defeats since the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and is now in power in only two states while serving as a minor coalition partner in two others.
Azad started his political career soon after working as the secretary for the Block Congress Committee in Bhalessa in his home state of Jammu and Kashmir in 1973. Two years later, he was nominated as the President of the Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Youth Congress and in 1980, he was appointed as the President of the All-India Youth Congress. Azad was the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir from 2005 to 2008 and then served as the Union Health Minister during the second term of the UPA government. He also served as the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha after the Congress lost the general elections in 2014.