At least 20 Congress leaders of the party’s Jammu and Kashmir unit have resigned from their positions, The Indian Express reported on Wednesday.

Those who quit are considered to be close to senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad. They have been demanding a change in the party’s leadership in the Union Territory. The Jammu and Kashmir unit of the Congress is headed by Ghulam Ahmad Mir.

Those who have resigned include former ministers Vikar Rasool, GM Saroori and Dr Manohar Lal Sharma, former legislators Naresh Gupta, Jugal Kishore Sharma, Ghulam Nabi Monga, Subash Gupta and Mohammad Amin Bhat, Vice President of the Jammu and Kashmir unit Anwar Bhat and member of Kulgam District Development Council Anyatullah Rather.

Monga and Rasool confirmed to The Indian Express that they have sent their resignation letters to the party’s central leadership.

“We had been told that he [Mir] is being appointed for a period of three years, but it has been seven years now,” Rasool told the newspaper. “However, we have told the [Congress] high command that we will not hold any party position if there is no change in the party leadership in Jammu and Kashmir.”

In their resignation letter to party chief Sonia Gandhi, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi and Rajni Patil, who is in charge of Jammu and Kashmir, the leaders alleged the Congress was heading towards a “disastrous situation” under Mir’s leadership.

“We have been requesting for appointment from the party leadership for the last one year through the medium of memorandum/regulations and by way of personal requests too on the maiden visit of Rahul Gandhi both at Srinagar and Jammu during August 2021,” the rebel leaders said in the letter, according to The Indian Express.

The letter added: “But no time was given to us. The matter was also brought to the kind notice of Rajni Patil, but sorry to say that no heed was paid.”

These leaders also alleged that “some unscrupulous sycophants” have captured and hijacked the functioning of the party’s Jammu and Kashmir unit.

“Party posts were distributed without consultation of senior leaders and sitting MLAs/MLCs of the districts,” they alleged, according to the newspaper.

The leaders pointed out that the Congress has lost all recent elections in Jammu and Kashmir, including District Development Council, Block Development Council, panchayat and local bodies. They pointed out that Mir himself lost the parliamentary polls and his son could not even win his home constituency.

“In view of this hostile attitude adopted by the party leadership, we have been compelled and forced to resign from all the party posts being carried,” it said. “As such, it is most humbly requested to please accept our resignation.’’