In September 2022, 17 leaders from Azad’s party rejoined the Congress.
In a major setback to Ghulam Nabi Azad’s Democratic Azad Party (DAP), 17 of its leaders joined the Congress on 6 January. The development comes at a time when Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra is about to enter Jammu and Kashmir in February.
Azad broke away from the Congress to form the DAP in September 2022 after a month-long internal tussle between the rebel leaders and the party high command.
All the 17 defectors from DAP are former Congress leaders who quit the grand old party along with Azad in August. The list includes former deputy chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Tara Chand and former Pradesh Congress Committee (J&K) chief Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed. The 17 leaders joined the Congress in the presence of senior Congress leaders KC Venugopal and Jairam Ramesh, AICC in-charge of Jammu and Kashmir, Rajni Patil.
“It was a big mistake to leave Congress”
Leaders said quitting Congress for “friendship of one person” was a big mistake on their part [Azad], The statement comes at a time when there is general speculation that Azad’s outfit was bound to split anti-BJP votes in the Pir Panjal and Chenab regions.
“We were not comfortable in DAP because we had spent 50 years in Congress and we realized our mistake,” Chand said. The return of former Congressmen is expected to end the organizational mess within the Congress in Jammu and Kashmir.
This is not the first time that DAP has suffered a setback. Around 120 party workers resigned on 24 December after Azad expelled Tara Chand, former minister Manohar Lal and former MLA Balwan Singh for alleged anti-party activities. Azad had then said that the expelled leaders were grabbing power within the party and blocking opportunities for others. On the other hand, the expelled leaders claimed that Azad was being sidetracked by some leaders close to him and were indifferent to consultation and diversity in decision-making.
At any rate, the disarray within the DAP has raised serious questions about its stability, shortly after it was projected as an emerging force in pockets of Jammu and Kashmir.
The DAP has also faced allegations of a secret arrangement with the BJP. Observers said the party has not been active in Jammu, Kathua, or Samba districts, where the BJP holds strong positions, and is instead focusing on the Doda region.
Tara Chand recently said: “Those who want to join the BJP should directly join it. There are people who divide the secular vote bank. But Azad has categorically denied any kind of agreement or understanding with the BJP.