17 J&K leaders desert Azad, return to Congress fold

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STATE TIMES NEWS

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.

Not a setback for DAP: Azad on party leaders rejoining Cong
Prominent Cong leader Dr Khanday from Banihal with hundreds join DAP
SRINAGAR: The leaders from Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP) returning to the Congress fold was not a setback for the newly formed party, its chairman Ghulam Nabi Azad said on Friday, and wished his old colleagues well.
Seventeen leaders of the DPAP, including Ex-Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand and ex-PCC Chief Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed, rejoined the Congress in New Delhi.
“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 here.
He was referring to Chand, Sayeed and Thakur Balwan Singh.
Azad said when the delimitation took place; these leaders were left without their constituencies as some assembly constituencies were reserved by the commission.
“I had given them positions (in the party) as they were my old colleagues and they could not have contested elections. But, they could not digest that. It is okay. Perhaps where they went, they do not know that these three only had party positions, but have no constituencies,” he said.
Asked how he sees that the killings in Rajouri by terrorists were being given a “communal angle”, Azad said the killings of non-Muslims in J&K has also caused suffering to the Muslims.
“The terrorists have always tried this. It is not something new and has been happening for the last 25 years whenever massacres of Sikhs or Kashmiri Pandits took place. This has been Pakistan’s policy, it is regrettable and it causes a lot of sufferings to the Muslims of Kashmir.
“Perhaps the killers have no idea that Kashmiri Muslims have to bear the maximum brunt of the killing of any non-Muslim here. Lakhs of our boys and girls from Kashmir are studying across India. The killings have an impact on them in one way or the other,” Azad said.
Meanwhile, in a major development, a prominent Congress leader Dr Asif Khanday along with hundreds of workers joined Democratic Azad Party.
On the occasion, Azad said that joining of Khanday will infuse the new blood in the party and would galvanise its cadre.
“Together we shall take this march of development forward,” said Azad, adding that if his party is elected to power after elections, the remaining developmental projects of Ramban district will be completed in triple shifts.
“When I was the Chief Minister of erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state, I ensured Ramban district, particularly Banihal, get all the required developmental projects. We speeded up the works of execution after sanctioning hospitals, schools, roads, colleges and other infrastructural projects. I assure you once we are back in power after elections this district will become the centre of economic activities,” he said.
Azad said his party is aiming to promote the youth on Jammu Kashmir’s political landscape and with the joining of influential and educated youth, DAP is becoming the major political force of UT.
He said DAP is the party of youth and encourages fresh blood into its fold since youth is the future of the country.
Azad, however, was happy to see the response of the people in Banihal who urged him to hold the mega political rally in the district. He assured them that soon he will come to Ramban district to hold the political rally.
Among others present on the occasion were Vice Chairman G. M. Saroori, Treasurer Taj Mohiuddin, Chief Spokesperson Salman Nizami, Secretary Arun Raju, Mohd Amin Bhatt, Bilal Peer, Ab Gani Khan, Sujada Bashir, Mushtaq Khanday, Amir Rasool, Khalid Tufail, Shafiq Shabnam, Firdous Nabi, Farooq Wani, Mohd Iqbal Naik, Gh Nabi Sohil, Gh Nabi Naik, Ab Gani Wani, Asghar Rasool, Shariq Mir, Azhar Ahmed.

“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. 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.