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Toufiq Rashid , Hindustan Times
Srinagar/Pulwama/Budgam, November 07, 2013
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday called for more democracy within his own party. Gandhi insisted on decentralisation in the party as well as administration. Addressing Congress workers at the party headquarters in Srinagar's commercial centre Lal Chowk, Gandhi said workers would be consulted when selecting candidates for the forthcoming elections in Jammu and Kashmir. "From workers you become MLAs (legislators) and ministers, but you do not become workers from MLAs and ministers."

“Only those who work among the people would be given tickets in the future, not those who travel by helicopters," said Gandhi.

Earlier, speaking at a function in Pulwama in south Kashmir, Gandhi reiterated the need for empowering panchayats in the state.

Referring to disruption of his Jammu rally on Wednesday, Gandhi said, “The sarpanch disrupted the rally but he was right in raising the issue.”

At a function for a women's self-help initiative ‘Umeed’ in Badgam town, Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah and Gandhi sought to put to rest rumours of a strain in ties between alliance partners, Abdullah’s National Conference (NC) and the Congress.

Speaking to media on the sidelines of the function, Gandhi said he would campaign for Abdullah in the coming elections. “I am a supporter and a friend of Omar. We have a government here together and we will rally together."

In his turn, Abdullah also committed his support for the UPA. “We are committed supporters of the UPA. I do not see any reason why that should change."

Some senior leaders in the coalition have been issuing statements against each other, leading to rumours of a rift between the coalition partners.