Kashmir legislators wary of power-sharing

  • Agence France-Presse, PTI, Srinagar
  • |
  • Updated: Oct 28, 2002 19:04 IST
Congress party lawmakers in Kashmir voiced concern Monday over a power-sharing deal hammered out by their national leaders at the weekend.

The Congress and the regional People's Democratic Party agreed in New Delhi to form a coalition government in the state, with the PDP to head the assembly for the first three years before handing over to Congress for the remaining three years.

The Congress won 20 seats and the PDP 16 in the assembly elections that ended October 8. With the support of two junior partners, the coalition has crossed the magic figure of 44 seats required to control the 87-member legislative assembly in Srinagar.

But local Congress lawmakers expressed doubts that the PDP, whose leader Mufti Mohammed Sayeed is to be chief minister initially, will lay ball.

"What guarantee we have that ... Sayeed will not dissolve the assembly after three years and force fresh elections?" asked Taj Mohiudin, a senior Congress politician who defeated Mohammed Shafi, a veteran leader of long-ruling National Conference, for a seat in the state assembly.

Mohiudin said the chief minister had the power to dissolve the assembly and urged his party leaders to ensure the term of the "rotational chief ministership" was reduced.

Ten Congress legislators, including Mohiudin and seven independents, met in Srinagar Sunday to condemn Congress high command's decision "to hand over power to PDP on a platter."

Mohiudin accused the party's central command of "playing with our sentiments," though he said he and his colleagues would support the decision.

"We have serious reservations against the nomination of Sayeed as chief minister," said Mohiudin.

"It had been conveyed to the central leadership that Sayeed would not be accepted as leader of the House," added Jugal Kishore, a Hindu legislator from the southern Jammu region.

"We have been saddened by the decision, but in Congress we have to go by whatever is decided by the high command."

The lawmakers said party leaders, including Ghulam Nabi Azad, the head of Congress in Kashmir, had failed to consult them before making the decision.

"We came to know about the developments through media only," said Kishore.
Azad's nomination as chief minister was opposed by PDP because he is from the Hindu-dominated Jammu region not from Muslim-dominated Kashmir valley, which has suffered most during the 13-year-old anti-India rebellion. 

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