National Conference Biased Against Jammu: Sham Lal

26 October 2014
The Tribune (Chandigarh)

Jammu: Congress leader Sham Lal Sharma, who resigned from the Council of Ministers on Friday, today reiterated his resolve to raise his voice for the people of the Jammu region. He alleged that the anti-Jammu approach of two National Conference (NC) ministers had forced him to quit. Sham Lal held the Ministry of Public Health Engineering, Irrigation and Flood Control. 'Two NC ministers were against regularising poor daily wagers because a majority of them belong to the Jammu region,' he said while addressing a press conference here today. Although Sham Lal avoided a direct attack on Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather, he was unsparing in his criticism of Higher Education Minister Mohammad Akbar Lone for trying to blackmail him on the issue. 'The Finance Department had said it would approve the case of the temporary employees but at the eleventh hour, it was sabotaged,' he said in his veiled attack on Rather. The Congress leader, however, said Lone had told him to recruit 500 people through backdoor on back date as a pre-condition for getting the cases of daily wagers approved in the Cabinet. 'Instead of succumbing to the blackmail tactics of NC minister, I decided to submit my resignation,' he said and added that the anti-Jammu mindset of some National Conference ministers was exposed during the episode. When asked about the status of his resignation, Sham Lal said: 'The Chief Minister is out of state, so I have submitted my resignation to Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee chief Saifuddin Soz who is the chairman of the Coordination Committee,' he said and asserted that he would stick to his stand. Replying to another question, Sham Lal said he had always vociferously taken up Jammu's issue, be it in the government or as a Congress leader. When asked about rumours regarding his joining the BJP, Sham Lal said during the 2008 Amarnath land row, he had gone to Geeta Bhawan to render support to the agitation. 'I am a loyal soldier of the Congress and as a Congress worker I would strongly take up Jammu's cause at every platform,' he said. Congress leader and MLA from Akhnoor Sham Lal Sharma was accorded a rousing reception on reaching Jammu this afternoon. Sham Lal resigned as state minister on Friday after his demand of regularisation of over 60,000 daily wagers, casual workers was rejected by the state Cabinet. Hundreds of Sham Lal's supporters had gathered outside the Jammu Airport to receive him. As soon as he came out of the airport, his supporters resorted to sloganeering in his favour. He was taken in a big procession from the airport in an open jeep to his residence on the Akhnoor Road. A large number of youth were on two wheelers to welcome their leader. Sham Lal's supporters also raised pro-Jammu slogans, trying to project that their leader had sacrificed the chair for the cause of the Jammu region. Addressing his supporters, the Congress leader said power was not his priority but his aim was to serve the people with dedication and commitment. He assured the gathering that he would continue to raise voice for Jammu.