Former Chief Minister and senior Congress leader, Ghulam Nabi Azad on Friday resigned from all positions in the Congress party, including its basic membership as was expected following his differences with the party high command.
Azad had earlier resigned as the head of the Congress campaign committee in J&K. This was followed by some of his loyalists resigning from the Congress.
Azad joined the Congress in the mid 1970s and has held many important positions both in the party and the government.
He was a minister in the central cabinet headed by Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, P.V. Narasimha Rao and Dr. Manmohan Singh.
Since 1980, Azad was the general secretary of AICC under every party president during that period.
He was the chief minister of J&K from 2005 to 2008.
In his resignation letter addressed to party president Sonia Gandhi, Azad said, "You are aware that I had an extremely close relationship with your family from late Mrs Indira Gandhi, late Shri Sanjay Gandhi onwards including your late husband.
"In that spirit I also have great personal regard for your personal trials and tribulations which would always continue.
"Some of my other colleagues and I will now persevere to perpetuate the ideals for which we have dedicated our entire adult lives outside the formal fold of the Indian National Congress".
Azad's parting ways with the Congress is seen as a significant development because of his political clout especially in the Jammu division. He belongs to Doda district.
If he chooses to float a new political party steering clear from both the Congress and the regional parties like the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party, Azad could well become the kingmaker depending on the number of seats he can win out of the 43 seats in the Jammu division.