August 2006 News

PDP recalls Baig, wants Zagar as deputy chief minister

31 August 2006
Indo-Asian News Service

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir's ruling alliance partner People's Democratic Party (PDP) Thursday decided to recall its senior leader and Deputy Chief Minister Muzaffar Hussain Baig from the state cabinet and elevate Abdul Aziz Zargar in his place.At a hastily convened meeting of the PDP legislature party held at the uptown Gupkar residence of party patron and former chief minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, it was decided to withdraw Baig from the state cabinet as the PDP nominee.The PDP legislature party elected senior leader and Agriculture Minister Zargar as its leader.It was also decided at the meeting to revoke the suspension of former minister and senior party leader Ghulam Hassan Mir.Mir had been suspended from the PDP for 'anti-party activities' during the by-polls to the legislative assembly early this year.The PDP has written a letter to Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad to elevate Zargar to the deputy chief minister's post.These whirlwind developments came in the wake of Azad's announcement of portfolios for his reshuffled council of ministers this week. The cabinet was reshuffled Tuesday, but the issue of allocation of portfolios to the new ministers was hanging fire following the PDP's request that Baig be divested of the high- profile portfolios of finance, planning and development, law and parliamentary affairs.The PDP leadership, including Sayeed and his daughter and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, was unhappy with Baig for his reported proximity to the chief minister.Azad instead used his prerogative as the head of the council of ministers and ignored the PDP appeal.In the allocation of departments to his council of ministers announced here Thursday, Azad had announced that Baig would continue to hold all the portfolios he held before the reshuffle.Following the PDP decision to withdraw Baig from the council of ministers, Azad is left with no option but to drop him and promote Zargar as deputy chief minister - unless he chooses to upset the fragile alliance between his Congress party and the PDP.'Anything short of this would endanger the continuation of our alliance with the Congress,' a senior PDP leader told IANS here.


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