Azad’s utterances, optics split J&K Congress, Mir flies to Delhi

Central leadership planning to hold meetings with local leaders for a “cautious response”

The Congress high command has taken a note of the recent utterances and the optics put on display by senior leader Ghulam Nabi Azad in Jammu, as two groups of the party workers hit the streets on Tuesday for and against Mr. Azad.

Party sources said J&K Congress chief G.A. Mir was called to Delhi by the top leadership for “a discussion over the recent developments in Jammu”.

Mr. Azad’s show of strength, marked by defiant utterances and optics against the top leadership, has already resulted in a vertical split in the unit here.

Mr. Mir, a Gandhi loyalist, was conspicuous by his absence at the recent mega gathering in Jammu, where Mr. Azad and several G-23 leaders addressed the party workers.

Sources said the the leadership is planning to hold meetings with senior J&K Congress leaders for a “cautious response” to the recent developments. Mr. Azad’s loyalists in J&K may not be invited for the consultations, they said.

The growing division within the Congress came to fore in Jammu when the two groups took out the rallies.

“Mr. Azad held a meeting of G-23 in Jammu to weaken the Congress party. He is doing it at the behest of the BJP. How can a Congress worker bear it when Azad praises Mr. Modi, who snatched away the statehood of J&K,” said Shahnawaz Choudhary, who along with his supporters burnt an effigy of Mr. Azad.

He said that at a time when the Congress is at its lowest, Mr. Azad should have used his experience to resurrect and not weaken it.

“Mr. Azad selectively organised a function of the Gandhi Global Family in which the photos of national leadership were missing,” he said.

In a counter street protest, youth Congress leader Ankur Raina expressed his support to Mr. Azad and demanded dismissal of Mr. Choudhary from the party.

“Mr. Choudhary is not a member of the Congress. He contested the District Development Council polls as an independent candidate. He organised these protests at the behest of the BJP,” senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Monga, considered an Azad loyalist, told The Hindu.

Party chief spokesperson Ravinder Sharma said the party had no prior information about any protest held against Mr. Azad. “It’s for the party high command to take notice of anything which goes against the interest of the party,” Mr. Sharma said.

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