September 2006 News

J&K coalition: PDP wins round second

9 September 2006
The Hindu
Shujaat Bukhari

Srinagar: A row in the coalition government over the allocation of Finance, Planning, Law and Parliamentary Affairs portfolios has ended with Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad accepting the recommendation of the People's Democratic Party to assign these to its senior leader and Housing Minister Tariq Hamid Qarra. The issue had plunged the Congress-PDP coalition into major crisis on August 31, when Mr. Azad while ignoring the PDP's decision to change the portfolio of its erstwhile Deputy Chief Minister Muzaffar Hussain Baig, who was holding these portfolios before the Ministry expansion on August 29. Mr. Azad instead retained Mr. Baig as Finance and Planning Minister, which finally culminated in Mr. Baig being recalled by his party from the Cabinet as Deputy Chief Minister. Even as Mr. Azad was not willing to part with these key portfolios and tried to convince the Congress high command that the party should retain these portfolios, the leadership asked him to stick to the coalition agreement reached in 2002 when the Government was formed. Sources said that allocating the portfolios to Mr. Qarra, a trusted lieutenant of the former Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, had become a bone of contention. As Mr. Qarra is seen loyal to Mr. Sayeed, there were apprehensions in a section of the Congress that the Finance and Planning portfolios going to him may not augur well for the party. But Mr. Azad was left with no option but to succumb to the party high command's pressure of not violating the agreement.


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