With the House of Elders, bidding tearful adieu to the four nominees after completion of their term, the Rajya Sabha has landed in a not-so-unprecedented state where it will lack a voice from Jammu and Kashmir, a state reduced to a Union Territory (UT). Unlike Shamsher Singh Manhas, the BJP leader from Jammu, all others – Ghulam Nabi Azad, Fayaz Ahmad Mir, and Nazir Ahmad Laway are rumoured to become impacted by the redeployment of the political forces in Jammu and Kashmir. There has not been an official confirmation but Laway is considered to be distant from PDP and Mir is likely to join Sajjad Lone’s Peoples Conference that quit the PAGD recently.
AZAD IN FOCUS
The more important, however, is Ghulam Nabi Azad, the former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, who has been the vocal leader of the opposition in the Upper House. It is his retirement after 41 years of political career during which he worked with five Prime Ministers, has the distinction of being general secretary in-charge of all states at various points of time, and has been a member of the all-important CWC for more than 18 years and has pushed the Jammu and Kashmir group in limelight.
Given the emotional exchanges during the farewell event, sections in the media report that the Narendra Modi government has opened the doors for Azad, a respected Kashmiri speaking Muslim face from Jammu who has evolved as a crisis manager for Congress before falling out of favour. Newspapers are speculating that he could be a BJP’s Vice Presidential candidate, Chairman for the Rajya Sabha or could be deployed as the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir with the support of BJP and its allies.
A LONG CAREER
Azad has been an impressive speaker. Of his 41 years in politics, he actually has been a member of the Rajya Sabha for 28 years and spent a decade in Lok Sabha. When Article 370 was read down and the special position binned in August 2019, Azad was a major critique of decision-making and had accused the BJP of “murdering the Constitution”. In a way, he was trying to be the conscience keeper of a House and the spirit of democracy.
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