Split in J&K National Panthers Party
13 November 2005
Jammu: Bringing an end to several days of suspense, two MLAs of the Bhim Singh-led Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party are all set to form a separate outfit. The Panthers Party has four legislators in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly. Both the legislators, Harsh Dev Singh who is Bhim Singh's nephew, and Yash Pal Kundal were Ministers in the Mufti Government till a month back. Since the 2002 Assembly elections, differences between Mr. Bhim Singh and Mr. Harsh Dev Singhwere an open secret. The party was virtually divided into two camps — one led by Mr. Bhim Singh and the other by his nephew. The differences escalated a week back after the new Chief Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad, assumed office. Mr. Bhim Singh decided that none of his legislators would join the Azad-led Government. He also gave a ultimatum to Mr. Azad that he would withdraw support to the coalition Government if the recommendations of the Wazir Commission were not implemented and a fresh Delimitation Commission was not appointed soon. Both form part of the Common Minimum programme of the coalition government. Crisis The threat to withdraw support and the decision not to participate in the Azad-led Ministry brought about a crisis in the Panthers party with the two camps trading allegation and counter- allegations. Both started organising separate meetings to demonstrate their strength. Mr. Bhim Singh replaced Harsh Dev Singh — from the post of Legislative Party chief — with Balwant Mankotia who is also his nephew. He also set-up a committee against Mr. Harsh Dev Singh and Mr. Kundal in connection with the anti-party activities and indiscipline. Ultimately, matters worsened Mr. Harsh Dev Singh-led camp disassociated themselves from the Panthers party. Unconditional support Mr. Harsh Dev Singh said that the party's new faction would extend unconditional support to the Azad-led Government so that the priorities spelt out in the Common Minimum Programme could be realised at the earliest.Ruling out joining the new Government. Mr. Harsh Dev Singh made it clear that he had no desire or intention to be in the Government.