Padma award to Azad triggers speculations in J&K

DELHI : Azad who leads the G23 and is at loggerheads with the Congress leadership extensively toured Jammu and Kashmir recently along with his trusted former legislators without taking into confidence the local party leaders. However, his loyalists and independent observers point out that in his rallies across J&K, Azad criticised the Modi government’s style of functioning and the price spiral but did not utter a word against the Congress leadership. He claimed that despite differences of opinion on various issues with the party leadership he was a 24-carat Congressman.

Speculations about Azad’s possible next move have come as he maintained a good working relationship with Prime Minister Narendra Modi while functioning as the leader of the opposition. Modi had appreciated Azad at various forums. Azad was being seen as a dissident since August 2020 when he alongwith 22 other party leaders wrote to Congress president Sonia Gandhi that the party was not being steered in the right direction. The group has now come to be identified as G23. Azad had on Wednesday scotched speculations about his political plans but his detractors are taking his claim with a pinch of salt. They point out that Muzaffar Baig, who was among the founders of the PDP and was deputy chief minister in the ministry of Ghulam Nabi Azad, was also given Padama Bhushan by the Modi government in 2020 after which he joined the Sajad Lone led Peoples Conference that is considered close to BJP. Azad’s opponents also point at the current electoral scene in Punjab where SS Dhindsa, who broke away from the Akali Dal and was given the Padma award, was now a part of the three-party BJP alliance that is contesting the assembly elections. However, political observers in J&K are keeping their fingers crossed on these developments.

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