Resigning from the Congress in support of Ghulam Nabi Azad was a “blunder”, former Jammu and Kashmir deputy chief Minister Tara Chand said on Saturday – two days after he along with former minister Manohar Lal Sharma and former legislator Balwan Singh were expelled from the Azad-led Democratic Azad Party (DAP).
More than 100 office bearers and founding members of the DAP announced their resignation from the party in support of the three leaders, who decided to reach out to the people before taking a decision on their next course of action.
Chand, however, said they will remain secular till their last breath and would have no objection in joining the Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Yatra when it enters Jammu and Kashmir.
“The decision of the DAP to expel us without any reason or justification came as a big surprise to us. Today, we feel that our decision to resign from the Congress in support of Azad was a blunder,” Chand, flanked by the leaders and activists, told reporters here.
He said they have a long association with Azad and when he resigned from the Congress, “we felt we should stand with our leader and extend moral support to him”.
“The Congress gave me a mandate, made me Congress legislative party leader, speaker and deputy chief minister…We repent our decision today as we feel we betrayed our party, while DAP betrayed us,” Chand said.
Asked about their sacking from the DAP, he said “We have not seen such a type of dictatorship in our decades long political careers. Azad rebelled against the Congress leadership, set up a G23 group and even shot letters but he was not sacked by the (Congress) party which believes in internal democracy.” “We opposed the Pradesh Congress Committee (J&K) president at his behest but the party did not serve us any notice. We were working to strengthen the DAP, the party which is yet to get recognition, and we were accused of anti-party activities and sacked without any intimation,” he said.
Welcoming Azad’s decision, Chand said it had further strengthened them and they are getting support from all across Jammu and Kashmir.
“Many more leaders from Kashmir including former ministers and legislators from DAP and others are joining our group to strengthen the secular vote bank and work for the restoration of the people’s rights including the special status under Article 370 of the constitution and statehood.
“Restoration of pre-August 5, 2019 status to Jammu and Kashmir is the popular demand of the people from both the regions of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.
Without naming Azad, he said a “big leader” is saying that it cannot be restored but “we want to tell him that nothing is impossible. It is the popular demand of both the regions and we appeal to the Prime Minister to accept this demand and restore our identity. He is the Prime Minister of the whole country and should hear the voices from J&K.” Chand said he had enjoyed good friendly relations with all parties as he did not consider any party “untouchable”.
“We are secular and will die as a secular,” he said when asked whether he would like to join BJP.
“The leaders inclined towards BJP or Congress or any other party should join any of these parties without hoodwinking the public. We have leaders here who are misleading the public and are dividing the secular votes to benefit one particular party,” he said in a veiled attack on the DAP chairman who is being accused by Congress of working at the behest of BJP.
“We will not betray the public and we won’t play as an ‘A’ or ‘B’ team of any party. We will meet the public and after their consultation, will join a party which is secular and going to form the next government in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.
On Bharat Joda Yatra, he said when National Conference leaders Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah and leaders of other secular parties have expressed their desire to join the yatra which is meant to unite the country, “we do not have any hesitation to be part of it.” However, he said nobody from the Congress approached them so far.