October 2002 News

Cong. will not form minority govt.: Azad

21 October 2002
The Hindu

Chennai: The Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee president, Ghulam Nabi Azad, said today that his party was not interested in forming a minority government and would not stake its claim in the near future. He, however, did not rule out forming a government with the support of the National Conference (NC), though at a later stage. Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Azad said that ''from the very beginning we have held the view that there has to be a government joined by all the parties who were voted by people against the NC''. A government with participation from all the three regions and parties only would respond positively to the aspiration of the people. ''Though all the parties, including the Panther''s Party, the CPI (M) and the independents, did come forward to translate into reality the mandate, unfortunately the People''s Democratic Party (PDP) is still out,'' he said. Stating that in spite of having support of 40 members, the Congress would not stake its claim in the near future and ''we would prefer an agreement with the PDP which, too, has essentially come on a vote against the NC''. ''I do not want to lead a government which would be weak and not be able to deliver in accordance with the expectations of the people,'' he said. Asked whether Governor''s rule would continue in the event of failed talks with the PDP, he said: ''Yes, I think it will continue unless there is a solution''. Mr Azad did not reply to a question whether the Congress would try to form the government with the support of the NC. To persistent questions he said ''not at the moment''. ''No suggestion had come as yet but in politics you cannot rule out anything.'' Mr Azad said ''there are no permanent friends and enemies in politics''. On the Congress efforts to reach an agreement with the PDP, Mr. Azad said the PDP chief, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, had insisted on a common minimum programme for which the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, set up a four-member committee. It was almost finalised in consultation with Mr. Sayeed but it remained stuck on the issue of Chief Ministership which ''our party did not agree to that since we were high in numbers''. Most of the independents and other groups also support a Congress-led government, he said. ''Even if we agree to the PDP demand, the members whose support is necessary for coalition will not,'' he said. A Congress-led government would be beneficial to the strife-torn State. ''We are a national party and can muster support on contentious issues in the entire country and Parliament''. The State needed a healing touch and support on THE economic front which was possible only if the Congress came to power. ''We are ruling in 14 other States and the mutual benefit could be drawn.'' The resolution of problems in Kashmir could not be confined to Jammu and Kashmir alone. People had given a mandate for a responsive government but ''unfortunately the PDP is not realising this''.


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