‘Congress leaders in revamped J&K unit finalised after consultations with Azad’: Sources

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NEW DELHI, Aug 17: The Congress on Wednesday said senior party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad was consulted several times before finalising the names in the revamped Jammu and Kashmir unit of the party, rejecting reports that the former union minister was not on board.
The assertion came a day after Azad declined to head the Campaign Committee for Jammu and Kashmir after he was appointed to the post by party chief Sonia Gandhi.
Azad is a prominent member of the so-called ‘G23’ group within the Congress which has been critical of the leadership and has been seeking an organisational overhaul.
He retired from the Rajya Sabha last year and was not renominated to the upper house by Congress.
Sources in the party said there were four rounds of consultations held with Azad before finalising the revamped panels of the Jammu and Kashmir unit of the party and the last such consultation with party leaders was held on July 14.
They said that the names of party leaders in the revamped unit were decided from the list provided by Azad himself.
The sources also said that Azad was the chairman of the campaign committee when Saifuddin Soz was the president of the party’s J&K unit.
Azad, the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir who was also the leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha before he retired from the upper house, has declined to head the state campaign panel on grounds that he is a member of the party’s all-powerful working committee and thus cannot a post at the state level now.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi had on Tuesday appointed Azad as the party’s campaign committee chief in the union territory As part of a comprehensive revamp of the organisation in Jammu and Kashmir, Gandhi also appointed Vikar Rasool Wani, considered close to Azad, as the new JK unit chief.
Raman Bhalla was named as the working president of J&K Congress and Azad as champaign committee chief, with former PDP leader Tariq Hamid Karra as vice chief of the campaign panel.
Hours after the appointments were made public, sources said Azad declined to accept the offer.
The Centre is wanting to hold assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir soon and the process of finalisation of electoral rolls is underway after the completion of the delimitation exercise.
Wani replaces Ghulam Ahmad Mir who had tendered his resignation in July after holding the post for eight years. (Agencies)