The Congress in Jammu and Kashmir is witnessing an escalated tug of war between Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and state party chief Saifuddin Soz.
On Saturday, the factions owing allegiance to Soz and Azad held separate rallies in Anantnag district to commemmorate the 125th anniversary of the Congress, sources said.
Azad, a former J&K CM, addressed the rally at Shangus; and Soz, a former Union minister, gave a miss to the rally 10 km away at Khanabal.
Soz then met party chief Sonia Gandhi to protest the move by the dissidents.
“Soz met Gandhi in the national capital last evening and discussed the political situation in the state with her,” a party statement said on Sunday.
The “parallel rally” by the Azad faction was attended by state road and buildings minister G.M. Saroori and former minister Abdul Gani Vakil, while medical education minister R.S. Chib, party leader Ghulam Rasool Kar and senior vice-president Ghulam Nabi Monga addressed the other event.
The two factions also held parallel rallies in Jammu on Mahatma Gandhi’s death anniversary on January 30.
That swords are out between Azad and Soz became apparent when the two came face-to-face at the Royal Springs golf course in Srinagar recently but did not exchange a word or even a greeting. The two looked annoyed at each other’s presence.
A bone of contention between the two groups, the sources said, was Soz’s decision to admit Imtiyaz Parrey, son of slain surrendered militant and former legislator Kukka Parrey, in the party fold. This irked Azad loyalists, who opposed the
Soz loyalists have blamed Azad for trying to destabilise the Omar Abdullah-led government.