Stage is set for what would be the former Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad’s new political chapter after he broke away from his five-decade-long association with the grand old party. It is D day for him and for his supporters in Jammu where Azad is likely to launch his own political party.
Preparations are in full swing for Azad’s first public rally as a non-Congressi. The red carpet would be rolled out for Azad who is to arrive at Jammu from Delhi this morning and he would be welcomed with a procession that would accompany him to the rally venue at Sainik Colony, according to former minister G M Saroori, reports PTI.
Saroori is among those prominent faces that quit the Congress after Azad’s rather public exit from the party following a bombshell 5-page letter slamming Rahul Gandhi for ‘demolishing’ the party.
Reports suggest that it is at this grand event that the 73-year-old Azad is expected to make the much awaited announcement of the formation of his own political party.
The road along the Jammu airport has been donning huge hoardings and banners welcoming Azad. At the main venue, seating arrangements have been made for over 20,000 people, reports PTI. “All those who resigned in support of Azad will be present at the public meeting,” Saroori told PTI.
He also told PTI that over 3,000 supporters of Azad, representing different sections of society, have expressed desire to join hands with him at the public meeting. “It is very difficult to manage such a large number of joinings we have worked out a formula to make them raise their hands in support of Azad to welcome the new entrants,” he said.
He said people from different political parties are also in touch with them and “we are expecting a tsunami of support in favour of Azad in coming times.” “People have tested Azad during his chief ministership (from November 2005 to July 2008) and are eagerly waiting for his return as the next chief minister, he said. He said the Azad-led party would be a reality on the political map of Jammu and Kashmir ahead of the next Assembly elections which are likely to be held after the completion of the ongoing process of special summary revision of the electoral rolls on November 25.
Azad quit the Congress, a party he has been associated with for over five-decades on August 26, terming the party “comprehensively destroyed”. Since Azad’s resignation, a flurry of top leaders and executives have quit the party and vowed to extend their support to Azad. Former deputy chief minister, eight former ministers, a former MP, nine legislators besides a large number of Panchayati Raj Institution (PRI) members, municipal corporators and grassroots workers from across Jammu and Kashmir have all jumped ship and joined the Azad camp.
Azad has been under severe criticism from the Congress after his pubic exit. Earlier this week, Azad took a swipe at Congress which had insinuated that he was cozying up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi after he left the party. Congress alleged that his “DNA has been Modi-fied” and several leaders attacked him citing Modi’s speech in Rajya Sabha in February last year in which the teary-eyed prime minister had praised Azad as a “true friend”.
Azad delivered a stern response to the remarks and said meeting and talking to political rivals does not change one’s DNA.