August 1998 News


Mufti, Shah Unnerve NC Government

17th August 1998

JAMMU— Despite senior Congress leader Mufti Mohd. Sayeed's announcement that his party was not in a hurry to form the Government in Jammu and Kashmir the ruling National Conference circles appear upset over behind the scene activities of the Mufti and his old political ally, Mr G.M. Shah, a former Chief Minister. The two have become quite active giving sleepless nights to National Conference circles.

Will 1984 events, when the duly elected National Conference Government led by Dr Farooq Abdullah was toppled through defections, be repeated in the near future in Jammu and Kashmir? This question has assumed importance following secret parleys Mr G.M. Shah, the estranged brother- in-law, of Dr Farooq Abdullah have had in recent weeks with some disgruntled National Conference legislators.

According to National Conference circles, both the Congress and the Awami National Conference headed by Mr G.M. Shah were trying to create multi-dimensional problems for the state Government. On one hand they were sending wrong signals to the militants when they persist in their demand for holding talks with separatists and on the other they were trying to encourage employees to resort to strikes.

Knowledgeable circles are of the opinion that repeating 1984 political drama was not now an easy affair. First, neither the state unit of the Congress nor the Awami National Conference can claim to have as much support from the BJP led Government at the Centre to the operation ouster of the Farooq Government as it has in 1984 when the then Prime Minister, Mrs Indira Gandhi, sided with the Mufti when he was wooing National Conference MLAs. As such any bid to stage a coup against Dr Abdullah's Government may not necessarily have the backing of Governor, Mr Girish Chander Saxena.

Secondly, the Congress, which has seven MLAs in the Assembly, has to muster the support of at least 36 National Conference MLAs for toppling the National Conference Government. In 1984 the Congress needed the support of only 13 National Conference MLAs and when it got it, the duly elected Government was toppled and Mr G.M. Shah took over Chief Minister with the support of the Congress. In 1984 the total strength of the state Legislative Assembly was 76 and at present it is 87 in which the National Conference has a two-thirds majority. As such it is very difficult for the anti-Farooq camp to stage a coup when the Chief Minister has inducted 29 MLAs and MLCs in the council of ministers.

However, the number of those National Conference MLAs annoyed with the party leadership is increasing and one estimate puts the number at 24. Still the toppling exercise may prove counter productive. Observers are of the opinion that staging a coup against Dr Farooq Abdullah could be yet another blunder. They refer to 1984 and say that the seeds of insurgency in Kashmir had been sown after the Farooq-led Government was dislodged.

Such an exercise could gave ample material to Pakistan for exploiting the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. The difficult security scenario in Jammu and Kashmir called for reconciliation between the ruling National Conference and the opposition. Judged from the inside political view most of the opposition party leaders within and outside the Assembly have been playing role complimentary to the state Government. The only hitch is continued political rivalry between Dr Abdullah and Mufti Mohd Sayeed and between the Chief Minister and Mr G.M. Shah. Mr Shah and Dr Abdullah have not been on talking terms with each other though Dr Farooq's sister is married to Mr G.M.Shah. The two had fallen apart right in 1980 when Dr Abdullah was installed by his father, Sheikh Abdullah, as National Conference President and the final break in relations came when Mr Shah toppled Dr Farooq's Government with the help of the Congress in 1984.


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