On August 26, Congress veteran Ghulam Nabi Azad quit the party after almost five decades. Following in his footsteps was a steady stream of Jammu and Kashmir Congress functionaries, from block-level party workers to senior leaders who had been cabinet ministers.
Azad, who has served as chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha as well as a Union Cabinet minister, was candid about wanting to start a new party. It would not be a national party at the moment, he explained on the evening of August 26, but a regional outfit formed in time for the Jammu and Kashmir elections, expected to take place soon.
In his resignation letter addressed to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Azad was scathing. The “situation in the Congress party has reached such a point of no return that now ‘proxies’ are being propped up to take over the leadership of the party,” he wrote.
By proxies, Azad presumably meant those doing the bidding of the Congress party high command, particularly the Gandhi family. In Kashmir, however, “proxies” has traditionally been used to refer to parties believed to have been set up by the Central government in New Delhi.
Over the decades, electoral politics in Kashmir has been…