17 JK leaders desert Ghulam Nabi Azad, return to Congress fold
Not a setback for DAP, says Azad
New Delhi/Srinagar: Seventeen leaders of the newly formed Democratic Azad Party (DAP) in Jammu and Kashmir, including former deputy chief minister Tara Chand and ex-PCC chief Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed, on Friday deserted former Congress veteran Ghulam Nabi Azad and returned to the Congress fold.
The leaders were welcomed back by the Congress which said they had gone on “leave for two months”.
AICC general secretary K C Venugopal said it was a happy day for the party as they were returning back to their home ahead of the Bharat Jodo Yatra which will enter Jammu and Kashmir after two weeks.
“The Bharat Jodo Yatra has become a big moment in the country and that is why all these leaders have decided to come back to the Congress fold,” he told reporters in Delhi.
“This is only a beginning and when the Yatra is entering Jammu and Kashmir, all people with Congress ideology and who want a united India will join the party. I think, they had gone on a leave for two months,” he said.
Asked whether there are any talks with Azad, who is the Chairman of DAP, for his return to the Congress fold, Venugopal said he has himself denied any such talks.
Azad said the departure of his colleagues was not a setback for the new party and wished them well.
“It is not a setback because all three of them have no constituency. I wish them well, I will not say anything against them as they have been my old colleagues,” Azad told reporters in Srinagar.
He was referring to Chand, Sayeed and Thakur Balwan Singh.
On whether Azad has been invited for the Yatra, Venugopal said, “Those who believe in the ideology of Bharat Jodo Yatra are welcome to join the Yatra. All are welcome.”
“We have invited all like-minded parties to join the Yatra,” he said, adding that Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Sayeed will join the Yatra and walk with Rahul Gandhi in Srinagar.
He also said there is a wider thinking in the country to fight against divisive policies of the BJP and the central government.
Party leader Jairam Ramesh said, “A total of 19 leaders were to join today, but 17 were able to come to Delhi and join today. This is the first phase and others will also join soon”.
Asked about the reasons to quit the Congress, Tara Chand said, “We got carried away by emotions and friendship and quit the party in haste”.
On why they rejoined, he said, “We were not comfortable in DAP as we have spent 50 years of our life in the Congress and realised our mistake”.
“We have spent our entire life in the Congress and we took the wrong decision in haste and out of emotions. The biggest blunder done by us was to leave the party and we have now returned and we are thankful to the party for accepting us back”.
On Ghulam Nabi Azad, Chand said he is a senior leader and we were not aware under what circumstances and reasons he left the party. “We left out of emotion as we felt our leader has been left alone and that is why we supported him in haste,” he said, adding that secular forces should unite in Jammu and Kashmir.
AICC in-charge for J and K Rajani Patil said if one returns back home by the evening, one is not lost. She said they have understood that the Congress has given them identity and they decided to return.
Peerzada said he has remained a Congress leader for 50 years and “it was a mistake to leave the party and we got carried away with emotion. We apologise to the people of Kashmir and the party”.
He said there is need to strengthen and unite all secular forces in J and K where terrorism has increased instead of decreasing in the last eight years.
The other leaders who returned to the Congress were Mohd. Mujaffar Parray, Mohinder Bhardwaj, Bhushan Dogra, Vinod Sharma, Narinder Sharma, Naresh Sharma, Ambrish Magotra, Subash Bhagat, Santosh Manhas, Badri Nath Sharma, Varun Magotra; Anuradha Sharma, Vijay Targotra, Chander Prabha Sharma.