With political parties in J&K waiting for the Bharat Jodo Yatra of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to enter Jammu and Kashmir in January, former Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad’s party has started disintegrating as three of its leaders were expelled from the party.
Sources say the expelled leaders were accused of being in touch with Congress and had plans to join the Bharat Jodo Yatra of Rahul Gandhi when the latter would enter J&K in January.
Started with much fanfare in September this year with an aim to create an impact all across Jammu and Kashmir, the Democratic Azad Party failed to attract other parties into its fold, and on Thursday it suffered a huge jolt when the party expelled three leaders, Tara Chand, Dr. Manohar Lal, and Balwan Singh, for anti-party activities.
All three leaders were holding senior positions in the Congress party in J&K before they joined Azad. Tara Chand was Deputy Chief Minister in the PDP-Congress government and he has also remained the speaker of the J&K Legislative Assembly. Manohar Lal has remained Minister in Congress-PDP government. Balwan Singh was among the founders of the Democratic Azad Party.
Azad’s party leaders say the expelled three leaders were involved in anti-party activities and were reportedly in touch with Congress. They accused them of harming the mission of the Democratic Azad Party. “Our mission is to restore statehood to J&K and secure jobs and employment for people of J&K,” Democratic Azad Party leader R S Chibb told reporters in Jammu. He said only Azad has the potential of becoming Chief Minister of J&K and giving new hope to the people of J&K.
In his defense Tara Chand says he heard about his expulsion from the media. He said he and his colleagues helped Azad when he resigned the Congress party and launched a new party. “I had a long association with Azad and after he decided to form the party, we joined him and gave him the structure of the party. The party doesn’t exist on the ground and we are accused of anti-party activities. It is strange,” Tara Chand says.
He says he would be joining any secular party other than BJP. Tara Chand was all praise to Congress high command indicating he would likely join Congress. He also said he will have no qualms about joining Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra. “When the leaders like Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah are planning to join, why you are asking us what we should do,” he says.
With Tara Chand threatening many more people coming out of Democratic Azad Party, Azad’s Party is in real trouble. When Azad formed the party, it was assumed leaders from the other parties like Apni Party would join him. However, Apni Party leader Altaf Bukhari kept his folk together surprising all. In the past three months, Azad held huge public rallies in Jammu and various areas of Kashmir but he failed to attract other leaders from the parties formed after the abrogation of Article 370 towards his party. Now, with the expulsion of the three leaders, the weakness of Azad’s party has come to the fore.
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and a veteran Congress leader Azad had formed his new party after resigning from all positions in the Congress party and accusing the party leadership of committing "fraud" on the party in the name of "sham" internal polls.
On Azad’s resignation, many in the Valley had said Azad might face the fate of former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. However, unlike Amarinder Singh, Azad could gather a large number of Congress leaders of J&K, who in the first show of loyalty towards him, resigned from the party within hours after his resignation. But the new party is in a real crisis when Bharat Jodo Yatra is set to reach Jammu and Kashmir.