Seventeen former leaders of the Democratic Azad Party (DAP), including ex-deputy chief minister Tara Chand and ex-PCC chief Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed, on Friday returned to the Congress fold and were welcomed back by the party which said they were on a “leave of two months”.
AICC general secretary K C Venugopal welcomed the leaders, saying it was a happy day for the party as they were returning back to their home ahead of the Bharat Jodo Yatra which will enter Jammu and Kashmir after two weeks.
“The Bharat Jodo Yatra has become a big movement in the country and that is why all these leaders have decided to come back to the Congress fold,” he told reporters.
“This is only a beginning and when the Yatra is entering Jammu and Kashmir, all people with Congress ideology and who want a united India will join the party. I think, they had gone on a leave for two months,” he said.
Asked whether there are any talks with DAP chief Ghulam Nabi Azad to return to the Congress fold, Venugopal said he has himself denied any such talks.
On whether Azad has been invited for the Yatra, he said, “Those who believe in the Congress ideology are welcome to join the Bharat Jodo Yatra.”
“We have invited all like-minded parties to join the Yatra,” he said, adding that Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Sayeed will join the Yatra and walk with Rahul Gandhi in Srinagar.
Party leader Jairam Ramesh said, “A total of 19 leaders were to join today, but 17 were able to come to Delhi and join today. This is the first phase and others will also join soon”.
Asked about the reasons to quit the Congress, Tara Chand said, “We got carried away by emotions and friendship and quit the party in haste”.
On why they rejoined, he said, “We were not comfortable” in DAP as we have spent 50 years of our life in the Congress and realised our mistake”.
Peerzada said there is need to strengthen and unite all secular forces in Jammu and Kashmir, where terrorism has increased instead of decreasing in the last eight years.