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Ghulam Nabi Azad declines offer to head Congress’ J&K campaign committee

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Srinagar, Aug 16: In a big setback for Congress, senior party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad resigned as the chairman of the newly constituted campaign committee, soon after he was appointed to the post by party president Sonia Gandhi.

Ghulam Nabi Azad

"Ghulam Nabi Azad has refused to assume the post of Campaign Committee President of J&K due to health reasons. He has conveyed this to the Congress leadership and has also thanked the leadership for giving him the responsibility," news agency ANI reported quoting Congress sources.

The resignation of Azad, one of the group of 23 leaders came shortly after his close aide, Ghulam Ahmed Mir, was dropped from the post of the chief of the party's Jammu and Kashmir unit. Mir had stepped down last month.

Azad is a prominent member of the G23 grouping within the Congress which has been critical of the leadership and has been seeking an organisational overhaul.

Cong appoints Vikar Rasool Wani its J&K chief; Ghulam Nabi Azad to head campaign committeeCong appoints Vikar Rasool Wani its J&K chief; Ghulam Nabi Azad to head campaign committee

Azad, retired from the Rajya Sabha and was the outgoing leader of opposition, was not renominated to the upper house.

In the revamped unit, 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.

The Congress president has accepted the resignation of Mir from the post of president, Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee, a party statement said.

The Congress president appointed president and working president of the J&K unit and also constituted the campaign committee, political affairs committee, coordination committee, manifesto committee, publicity and publication committee, disciplinary committee and pradesh election committee of the UT unit with immediate effect, the statement said. Wani (46), a resident of Banihal township of Jammu region's Ramban district, is a two-time former legislator who also served as a minister during the Omar Abdullah-led National Conference-Congress coalition government between 2009-14.

Tariq Hamid Karra will be the vice chairman of the campaign committee headed by Azad, while G M Saroori will be its convenor, according to the statement. The campaign committee has named 11 leaders with PCC president and working president its permanent invitees. Mir, Tara Chand, Thakur Balwan Singh, T S Bajwa, Shabir Khan, Neeraj Kundan, Abdul Majeed Wani and Fairoz Khan are also part of the campaign committee. Gandhi also set up a political affairs committee with Karra as its chairman and it included the likes of Azad, Mir and Saifuddin Soz.

The political affairs committee also includes Peerzada M Syed, Taj Mohiuddin, Tara Chand, Mula Ram and Khemlata Wakhlu. The committee comprises nine leaders with AICC in-charge, PCC president and working president being permanent invitees in the panel.

The party also formed an 11-member coordination committee headed by Mir, 12-member manifesto committee under the chairmanship of Soz and nine-member publicity and publication panel led by Mula Ram. A seven-member disciplinary committee has been formed with Taj Mohiyuddin as the chairman.

A Pradesh Election Committee headed by PCC chief has also been set up. The Election Commission had recently revised to November 25 the date of final publication of voters list of Jammu and Kashmir - the union territory's first voters' list after the boundaries of assembly seats were redrawn in the delimitation exercise. After the rolls are published, the EC can technically hold assembly polls in the UT.

A timeline for the election is yet to be officially declared.

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