New Delhi, Feb. 20: Ghulam Nabi Azad occupied as many rooms at the Congress headquarters, 24 Akbar Road, as the states he looked after in his earlier avatar as general secretary.
He spent time in what became Sonia Gandhis room, now sanitised and sealed. He had the privilege of using what is now Rahul Gandhis chamber, also out of bounds for the aam aadmi, and sundry spaces now belonging to his colleagues and former colleagues such as Mukul Wasnik, Digvijay Singh, Oscar Fernandes, Ashok Gehlot and Margaret Alva.
A day after the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister was brought back as general secretary, the buzz was over the room that Azad would get. If space and privacy are the criteria, Alvas old room is ideal. It is vacant but nobody wants it because it is thought to be jinxed.
In office and out of it, Alva didnt have an easy run. As one of Sonias favourite general secretaries, she was insidiously attacked by her male peers from Karnataka who constituted a powerful internal group capable of destroying careers. Out of pique, she had accused some of her colleagues of selling tickets in the Karnataka election last year and lost her posts in the Congress organisation.
The other empty room was used by Ashok Gehlot, when he was general secretary before becoming Rajasthan chief minister. Funnily enough, Azad was the occupant of this room — smaller than Alvas —before he was sent to Jammu and Kashmir as chief minister.
Gehlot had grabbed it, hoping he, too, would eventually return to Jaipurs top job and, hey presto, he did.
However, sources close to Azad werent sure if he would want to come back to the room. Although he enjoyed the state stint and would probably have given his right arm to reclaim the post of chief minister, having returned to his old love, the Congress organisation, he would want to stay on for long, the sources said.
Known as the man with the Midas touch because of the string of Assembly victories he delivered, he has his task cut out because he has to pull off wins in two seemingly hopeless states, Karnataka and Orissa. In Tamil Nadu, which, too, he has been asked to oversee along with Pondicherry, he will be expected to decide whether it will pay the Congress to stick to its 2004 ally, the DMK, or experiment with J. Jayalalithaas ADMK.
Officially, spokesperson M. Veerappa Moily has said the Congress will remain with the DMK as of now.
He (Azad) was instrumental in forging a pact with the ADMK and his relations with Madam Jayalalithaa are good, a cabinet minister from the south said.