Congress leaders head to ‘Apni Party’ citing ‘sad’ state of Jammu-Kashmir unit
Former Congress leader from Jammu, Vikram Malhotra says the party didn’t have a full-fledged president at the national level to take on the Opposition and its inability to empower local leadership had also hurt its cause.
Two more Congress leaders have quit party’s Jammu and Kashmir unit to join the new political outfit led by former PDP minister Syed Altaf Bukhari--Apni Party—to be launched in the union territory on Sunday.
Former minister and president of the Samba district Congress committee Sardar Manjit Singh and Jammu district Congress president Vikram Malhotra said they quit because the Congress had become virtually dysfunctional in the region.
“Congress was not able to come out of the inertia for the past eight months. They were talking more about the National Conference. They were not talking about statehood, rights to jobs and land,” Manjit Singh said.
Vikram Malhotra echoed the sentiment: “Yes, I have also resigned from the Congress and will most likely join Apni Party on March 8. Congress had stopped functioning after the abrogation of Article 370 in August last year.”
Malhotra claimed the Congress party’s activities had ceased in the entire J&K.
“We were able to hold very little activity in Jammu district only,” he added.
Malhotra added that the Congress didn’t have a full-fledged president at the national level to take on the Opposition and the party’s inability to empower local leadership had also hurt its cause.
“The Congress high command didn’t give us regional leadership in Jammu, like what NC has done here. The Congress didn’t find any face despite the fact that we had a senior leader like Raman Bhalla, who could have been made regional leader to woo voters during elections but they didn’t do it,” Malhotra said.
Malhotra said that the realities in Jammu and Kashmir had changed after the abrogation of Article 370 and the issues of self-rule, autonomy, going back to pre-1953 status, had little meaning now.
“For the first time both Kashmir and Jammu regions, now, have the same issues of statehood, rights to jobs, lands, domicile etc,” he said.
Other Congress leaders including Aijaz Khan, Mumtaz Khan, Usman Majeed, Shoaib Lone, Hilal Shah are also likely to join Altaf Bukhari’s party.
“I am very much part of the third front. Likeminded people are coming together and I have nothing to hide. I joined Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari long ago. I formally resigned from the Congress around two and a half months ago. I have nothing to do with the Congress. I am not associated with Congress anymore,” said Shoaib Lone.
The former Bandipora legislator Usman Majeed had also recently resigned from the Congress to join Apni party along with nearly two dozen leaders.