Ghulam Nabi Azad eyed Rajya Sabha seat vacated by Antony

Ghulam Nabi Azad. Photo: Manorama
Ghulam Nabi Azad. Photo: Manorama

Thiruvananthapuram: Veteran leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, who quit the Congress the other day, always kept close contact with party leaders in Kerala. And towards the end, he placed a request before the top leaders of the party that his name should be recommended for Rajya Sabha election for the seat vacated by senior leader A K Antony. Had that request been heeded, perhaps Ghulam Nabi Azad would have never left the party.

Azad, in place of Antony, was a proposition acceptable to most Congress leaders in Kerala. Muslim League also informally conveyed its interest in this regard.

However, nobody took the risk of taking this proposal before Rahul Gandhi. The leaders here received enough hints that the Congress High Command was not interested in proposing Azad to Rajya Sabha again.

Azad, too, didn’t do any good to his case by not positioning himself as a tall leader in the country even while hinting about the desire for another Upper House shot with Kerala leaders. In fact, a majority of them were his long-time friends.

Azad, a respected leader, who was close to the state Congress leadership from his Youth Congress days, had intervened several times to resolve issues in the Kerala unit. Though no leader except V M Sudheeran has openly reacted to his exit, the entire state leadership is shocked and hurt over the development.

The Kashmiri was the mediator who helped prevent the tussle between Karunakaran and Antony factions from going out of control in the 1990s.

He was the party in-charge for the 2001 Kerala Legislative Assembly election in which the Congress-led United Democratic Front returned to power with 99 seats. It was in 2001 that Congress secured a comprehensive victory last in the State. Though Oommen Chandy Government came into power in 2011, it was by a narrow margin.

When he was appointed Youth Congress national secretary after the 1978 split, he got a Keralite friend among office-bearers: K Vasudeva Panicker. He had close ties with Panicker, who later became AICC general secretary.

Azad became closer to Kerala leaders after he became the Youth Congress national president. Ramesh Chennithala was the NSU national president then.

Though he left the Kerala charge later, Azad carefully observed the Kerala developments. He intervened when K M Mani left the UDF and when he returned later. The Muslim League mostly relied on Azad to apprise the Congress High Command of its demands and complaints.

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