06:10 GMT14 April 2021
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    On 9 February 2021, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi could not contain his tears during a Rajya Sabha (upper house) session, bidding farewell to his contemporary, Congressman Ghulam Nabi Azad. PM Modi’s emotional adieu fuelled rumours in India suggesting that the Congress veteran could join the rival governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

    Several members and workers of India’s main opposition Congress Party on Tuesday raised slogans against Ghulam Nabi Azad in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), just two days after he praised PM Modi for not “hiding his true self”.

    Azad’s words of appreciation for India’s head of government have not gone down well with Congress workers in J&K, who are criticising their former state chief for “forging a friendship” with the rival BJP.

    “Congress held him in high esteem but today when it's time to support it, he forged friendship with BJP. He didn't come for District Development Council (DDC) election campaigning but now he's here, praising the PM", Indian news agency ANI quoted Congress supporters as saying.

    Effigies of Azad are also being burned in the J&K valley. Visuals of the agitation against Azad have surface on social media.

    ​Speaking at an event in Jammu on 28 February, Azad drew parallels between himself and PM Modi, noting that both of them hailed from small villages.

    “Even our PM comes from a village and he used to sell tea. We are political rivals, but I appreciate the fact that he does not hide his true self", Azad had said.

    Jothimani, a Congress parliamentarian, also took to Twitter over the weekend to snap at Azad’s praise for PM Modi.

    The surprising bonhomie between PM Modi and Azad first revealed itself after videos of India’s prime minister breaking down in tears over Azad retiring from the upper house went viral last month.

    ​With legislative assembly elections in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam, and Puducherry right around the corner, in recent days several politicians have switched parties and alliances in India. Rumours of Azad also planning to switch from Congress to the BJP have thus picked up in the country.

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