Hours after former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad quit the Congress, eight senior party leaders including three former ministers resigned the party's primary membership, with sources indicating they may form a new party soon.
More leaders, perceived to be close to Azad, are contemplating to resign, the sources said.
Former ministers R S Chib, G M Saroori and Abdul Rashid; former MLAs Mohammad Amin Bhat, Gulzar Ahmad Wani and Choudhary Mohammad Akram; former MLC Naresh Gupta and party leader Salman Nizami have resigned in Azad's support, sources said. "Over the years as a member of the Congress Party, it has been my sincere endeavour to work for the betterment of my State - Jammu & Kashmir. I feel that in the prevailing circumstances, the Congress Party has lost its momentum in contributing towards the future of my State.
"Keeping in view the turmoil that the State of J&K has witnessed over the past decades, the people require a decisive leader like Azad to guide them towards a better future. I feel that the Congress Party has not been able to play the role that is expected of it," Chib said in his resignation letter addressed to Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Saroori, a former vice president of J&K unit of Congress, along with several other leaders met Azad in Delhi before submitting their resignation from the party, the sources said.
"Azad is a popular leader who served Congress for the last 50 years. He is a known face across the country for his contribution towards national building," Saroori told reporters after holding a meeting with Azad at his Delhi residence. Earlier, Saroori uploaded a joint resignation letter on his social media account, announcing Rashid, Bhat, Wani and Akram were quitting the party.
"He cannot stay out of politics...his services are needed in J&K and we are sure that he will be the next chief minister of the state (UT). People of J&K also love their leaders and are ready to give any sacrifice for him," Saroori said, dropping enough hints that Azad is likely to float his own party. Most of the Congress leaders, who are seen to be loyal to Azad, have already reached New Delhi and are camping there.
The sources indicated the veteran Congress leader is likely to float a new party next month as the union territory prepares for the first Assembly elections since the abrogation of Article 370 in 2019. The sources said former deputy chief minister Tara Chand, former MP Jugal Kishore Sharma and Muneer Ahmad Mir from Kupwara are also mulling to resign from the Congress.The leaders are also considered close confidants of Azad, the sources said. "We, the senior party leaders, are holding a meeting in the aftermath of the new developments. We will be meeting Azad sahib as well," Chand said.