Ghulam Nabi Azad recalls joining Congress when 'it was a taboo’ in J&K

Published on Aug 26, 2022 12:07 PM IST

Ghulam Nabi Azad resignation: The leader recalled joining the Congress in the 1970s.

Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad was conferred the Padma Bhushan, the third-highest civilian award earlier this year. (PTI)
Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad was conferred the Padma Bhushan, the third-highest civilian award earlier this year. (PTI)

Veteran leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Friday dealt a huge blow to the Congress as he resigned nearly two years after a group of 23 senior leaders - who came to be called as G-23 - had called for the restructuring of the party amid constant poll setbacks. In his five-page resignation letter, the 73-year-old former union minister spoke of the defeat in the two Lok Sabha polls. The party "lost 39 out of the 49 assembly elections held between 2014 - 2022, won only four state elections and was able to get into a coalition situation in six instances," Azad said on poll debacles. "Unfortunately, today, the INC is ruling in only two states and is a very marginal coalition partner in two other states."

Further, Azad, who earlier this year had received the Padma Bhushan - the third-highest civilian award - wrote about how he had joined the party in the 1970s when it was still a “taboo in the state". “I had joined the Indian National Congress in 1970s when it was still a taboo to be associated with the party given its chequered history in the state from August 8, 1953 onwards - the arrest of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah being the nadir of its political myopia.” Also known as ‘Sher-i-Kashmir”, Sheikh Abdullah is remembered for his key role in the politics of J&K.

Ghulam Nabi Azad wrote on the inspiration he drew from freedom fighters, including Mahatma Gandhi, Pt Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, at the start of the nearly four-decade long journey in the party. “Subsequently on insistence of Sanjay Gandhi, I agreed to shoulder the responsibility of Jammu and Kashmir Youth National Congress in 1975-76,” he wrote in the letter.

"I am recounting all these years of selfless service just to underscore my life long association with this great institution that I also served recently as the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha for seven years. I have spent every working moment of my adult life in the service of the Indian National Congress at the cost of my health and family," he wrote.

Addressing Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Azad underlined “While undoubtedly as the President of the Indian National Congress you played a sterling role in the formation of both the UPA -1 and UPA-2 governments. However, one of the major reasons for this success was that as president you heeded the wise counsel of senior leaders, besides trusting their judgement and delegating powers to them.”

Then he unleashed an attack on Rahul Gandhi, who had also served the party as the head briefly. “However unfortunately after the entry of Shri Rahul Gandhi into politics and particularly after January, 2013 when he was appointed as vice president by you, the entire Consultative mechanism which existed earlier was demolished by him. All senior and experienced leaders were sidelined and new coterie of inexperienced sycophants started running the affairs of the party.”

Azad's resignation comes days after another senior leader - Anand Sharma - had quit a key party post, adding to the Congress's troubles. The exit of Azad - who has been instrumental in poll preparations in the past - will make the road ahead of the state elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh very difficult for the Congress.

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