Cong Noises Upset NC29 December 2010
Srinagar: Both the factions of the State unit of Congress have started lobbying hard for the implementation of rotational chief minister in Jammu and Kashmir, as they did when they were in coalition with the Peoples Democratic Party. Upset over the move, the ruling National Conference said the party has entered into an agreement of six years for the post of chief minister with the Congress high command and not the State Congress. On December 28, senior Congress leader and the member of Coordination Committee of the coalition, Mangat Ram Sharma, while addressing a rally in Jammu, had demanded rotation of chief ministerial post. Interestingly, the statement was made in presence of JK Pradesh Congress Committee chief Saifuddin Soz and all ministers of Congress. Sharma is apparently seen as Soz loyalist and he enjoys a good support in Jammu, being an old guard of the Congress. His statement has also provided a chance to the supporters of Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad to lobby for the same. “Sharmaji should put forth his suggestion of rotational chief minister before the executive council of the party. The demand should be discussed threadbare,” said senior Congress leader Abdul Gani Vakil, an ardent supporter of Azad. Another Azad loyalist, wishing anonymity, said Sharma’s statement needs to be given a serious thought. “It should be discussed seriously at the party level and, accordingly, a decision should be taken,” he said. This is not for the first time that Congress has raised pitch for the implementation of change of guard. Congress has done so when it was in coalition with the PDP from 2002 to 2008. The PDP patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed ruled the State till 2005; subsequently, the charge was given to Azad. However, the demand for rotational chief minister has not gone well with the NC. The party seems disappointed over Sharma’s statement. Senior NC leader and party’s chief spokesperson, Sheikh Ghulam Rasool said State Congress had also put forth the same demand, which was turned down by the Congress high command. “There is an agreement between NC and the Congress high command in New Delhi for the six-year term of the chief minister. I don’t see any change in that,” he said. Another senior NC leader, Sheikh Mustafa Kamal said Sharma’s statement does not make any sense. “He is old and wants now to keep the flock together,” he said. He said Congress is faction-riddled from top-to-bottom. “He (Sharma) is trying to keep his partymen in a good humour. His statements have no value. The agreement is on papers that NC will continue to hold the chief minister’s chair for full term,” Kamal said. “NC has entered into an agreement with the Congress high command in New Delhi, not the State Congress.” Party MP from South Kashmir, Mehboob Beg said he does not feel any change in the commitment made by the Congress leadership in New Delhi.