In the past few weeks, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad has held large-scale meetings in Jammu and Kashmir. His public relations campaign is not part of the Congress party’s election program. These days, the discussion of a new possible role of the former Chief Minister in regional politics has intensified in the political circles of the Valley.
Azad, however, has claimed that he has no immediate plans to form a separate political party, despite his disagreement with the Congress leadership. Party leaders close to him in the union territory said the public rallies established him “as the next and best chief minister” of Jammu and Kashmir. Azad has gone back to Delhi, where he will likely meet the party leadership.
Azad has addressed around ten public rallies with an impressive presence in Jammu and Kashmir in the past few weeks, particularly in the Pirpanchal and Chenab regions of Jammu and parts of South Kashmir. The former J&K CM also held dozens of meetings with public representatives and voters at the grassroots level.
Azad told media during a rally in Jammu that he had no plans to start a party immediately but added that no one knows what happens next in politics. Meanwhile, there is speculation that Azad may get “behind the scenes support from BJP” to ensure CM from the Jammu division in the next assembly elections.
Former Kishtwar minister and senior Congress leader Ghulam Ahmed Saroori told Economic Times, “When people from all communities met Rahul Gandhi in Jammu, they clearly saw him as the party’s next chief ministerial candidate in Jammu and Kashmir.”
Saroori is among 20 Congress leaders in Jammu who resigned from party posts earlier this year to express their support for Azad. Soon after his resignation from Jammu and Kashmir, the Congress leadership removed Azad from the party’s disciplinary committee. Saroori said, “We are Congressmen at heart, and we will always be like this. Azad sahib went everywhere as a Congressman, and he is the next chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir.”