Ghulam Nabi Azad won’t fight LS polls, hints at contesting assembly. ‘Can’t go back on commitment to J&K’

Ghulam Nabi Azad won’t fight LS polls, hints at contesting assembly. ‘Can’t go back on commitment to J&K’

Doda: Former Jammu & Kashmir chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has decided against contesting the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, but has hinted that he will fight the assembly polls.

This comes days after his Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP) announced that he would be contesting the upcoming polls from the Anantnag-Rajouri seat. 

In an interview with ThePrint, Azad also said that while he has known Prime Minister Narendra Modi for three decades, but “that doesn’t mean that he will help me in my party, and I will help him with his party”.

The former J&K CM said that while a section of the party wanted him to fight the Anantnag-Rajouri seat, another section of leaders “said that when you made your own party, you had said ‘I have had enough in Delhi’”. 

“Now I should come back like I had come as chief minister,” he further said, adding: “When I resigned from the Congress and made my own party that time I decided to work in the state. So I think that is better. I should not go back on my commitment made to the people of the state.”

Taking a jibe at his former party, Azad said, “Why is Congress blaming A B C team? They themselves are playing the part of BJP’s B team because you are not working out anything. You are not allowing anybody to work. What does that mean? That means BJP will continue.”


He also took a swipe at INDIA alliance member the National Conference. “If BJP is blamed across the country for using religion for power, the National Conference is also doing the same thing at the cost of the people. This militancy is one of the offshoots of exploiting the religion and sentiments which are impossible sentiments, which you can’t give in a democracy.”

With Jammu & Kashmir set to vote in five phases starting 19 April, this will be the first major election here after the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019, apart from local level polls in 2020. National Conference (NC) leader Omar Abdullah is campaigning in the Udhampur-Doda Lok Sabha seat for ally Congress, and has repeatedly attacked Azad and his party.

Making it clear that he has been in favour of the restoration of Article 370 since day 1, Azad said, “I have said right from the beginning when it came before the Parliament and Rajya Sabha. I was the only person to speak against this (abrogation). The National Conference kept mum in Parliament.”

He said that Article 370, 35A and statehood were in the interest of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh regions.

Also Read: What do Ghulam Nabi Azad’s plans for J&K LS polls mean for BJP & Congress? Key factors to watch

‘Jammu province took biggest hit’ after abrogation

When Article 370 was abrogated, the Kashmir region saw some resentment, while the Jammu region rejoiced. However, Azad believes that the move most severely impacted the latter. 

“After removing Article 35A any person can apply for the services and they have applied. They are now in the hinterland of Jammu. The Jammu province has taken the greatest hit. Not Kashmir to that extent. Maybe the government when they removed 35A thought a lot of people will go to Kashmir and they will buy land there.”

However Azad said that the government didn’t realise that for the last 35 years “since the militancy had come to the state, not even local Muslims of Jammu…forget the Hindus…are buying land or serving in Kashmir.” 

He claimed that the “whole pressure” is on Jammu because it’s a “safe place”.

Meeting with Sonia Gandhi after G-23 letter

Back in 2022, when he was in the Congress, Azad had led a group of 23 leaders calling for reforms within the party and met Sonia Gandhi with their demands. This came after the leaders wrote a letter to her, calling for an overhaul of the organisation.

Speaking about what was discussed at the meeting, Azad said, “We had given suggestions for short-term, medium-term, long-term reforms. But the leadership did not agree even for the short-term (reforms), forget the medium- or long-term.”

The former CM described his conversation with then party president Sonia at the time. “We assured her that all of us, if you are thinking that we are going to take the presidency or any of them is a prime minister candidate. We assure you that neither we will take any post in the party nor will we contest Parliament. So there is no question of taking any post.” 

“And the beneficiary (of the reforms), if not you, will be your children. I said that your daughter and son will be the beneficiaries of these reforms,” he further recalled telling Sonia.

Azad claims that 23 leaders suggested that they and about half a dozen other former Union ministers and chief ministers, would only campaign. 

“We will not take any party (funds), even in naya paisa. We will arrange public meetings. This much clout we have in different parts, each one of us,” said Azad adding, “We will speak for the Congress party. We will speak in favour of leadership. We will speak in favor of the policies of the Congressman at our cost. we stay at our cost. We will spend our money to organise the public meeting.”

Azad believes had the suggestions been agreed to, the Congress would have been in a much better position in the elections.

‘Congress, NC ending up helping BJP’

Opposition parties have called Ghulam Nabi Azad’s DPAP a “B-team” of the BJP. They have accused his party of being in the fray in order to benefit BJP, by cutting anti-BJP or Congress votes. 

However, Azad believes that it is NC and Congress who end up helping the BJP. I can also say the same thing for Congress and the National Conference. Among the other parties (than BJP) my party was the first to announce the candidate. That means (their candidate) is an afterthought to make the BJP win. So according to me they are helping the BJP. Otherwise my candidate would have won.”

He added, the NC and Congress putting up a joint candidate is “just helping the BJP”. 

About his relationship with Modi, Azad said, “I have known him for the last three decades. But that doesn’t mean that he will help me in my party. And I will help him with his party.” He added, “I had been leader of the Rajya Sabha for 7 years. I have opposed the policies of the BJP so much. And they have opposed me and my policies.” 

(Edited by Gitanjali Das)

Also Read: Amit Shah, Adhir, Ghulam Nabi part of Kovind-led panel to study ‘One Nation, One Election’ feasibility


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