Congress leader hopeful of ‘return back’ by those who left
New Delhi: Amid an exodus of leaders in the party’s Jammu and Kashmir unit after the exit of Ghulam Nabi Azad, a senior Congress leader on Wednesday said many leaders who never got an opportunity in the Union Territory when Azad called the shots will return to the party-fold in the coming days.
The leader, who returned from Jammu and Kashmir after Azad’s resignation from the Congress, said efforts are on to further strengthen the party and bring in fresh blood at the grassroots level.
The leader said the party Azad plans to launch will affect the Congress in seven to 10 Assembly seats in the Chenab valley in the Jammu region but will not hurt it in the valley or other parts of Jammu and Kashmir.
“No person or leader from Azad’s camp ever attended the programmes of the Congress party even after requests,” the leader said on the condition of anonymity, adding, “We will overcome this tough phase too.”
The Congress is opposing the grant of land ownership rights to outsiders and seeking the restoration of statehood to Jammu and Kashmir, which was taken away after the provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution were abrogated in August 2019.
The party is also seeking an explanation on voting rights to temporary residents of Jammu and Kashmir and has expressed the apprehension that if 15-20 lakh such people are given voting rights, it will change the electoral politics of the Union Territory.
“The Congress is demanding full statehood and land ownership rights only to locals and not to outsiders,” the leader said while asserting that the party will be resurrected in the coming days and strengthened at all levels at the grassroots.
The Congress leader also said there is a plan to take former party chief Rahul Gandhi to Jammu and Kashmir as part of the “Bharat Jodo Yatra”, which will culminate there early next year, and permission is being sought in this regard.
Four of the party’s five MLAs in the last Jammu and Kashmir Assembly have quit along with Azad, who ended his five-decade association with the Congress on Friday, saying the party was “comprehensively destroyed” and lashing out at Gandhi for “demolishing” its entire consultative mechanism.