The killing of sarpanches followed by the announcement of mass resignations by panchayat members is turning into a bitter war between the Congress and the National Conference (NC) — the ruling coalition partners — in Jammu and Kashmir.
While Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi is said to be pushing for implementing the 73rd amendment in J&K, chief minister and NC leader Omar Abdullah has categorically rejected this key demand of the coalition partner.
"Rahulji told us that no power can stop it. He promised to continue his fight for implementing the 73rd amendment in J&K," said Shafiq Mir, who along with eight other sarpanches met Gandhi on Thursday.
The statement came a day after Abdullah once again ruled out implementing the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments.
"Incorporation of these amendments in J&K constitution is a fazool (useless) debate. We have made it clear that it is not needed. We can make amendments in our constitution to address the concerns of our coalition partner," he said in Srinagar on Wednesday.
Abdullah is annoyed with state Congress chief Saifuddin Soz for making public a letter he had sent to him seeking amendment to J&K Panchayati Raj Act in consonance with the 73rd amendment.
During their meeting with Gandhi, the J&K sarpanches demanded a compensation of Rs. 20 lakh each for the kin of their colleagues killed by militants, adequate security for panchayat members and the empowerment of panchayats.
Gandhi told them that he would visit the state soon and address meetings on the issue. Sources said Gandhi would be in Kashmir for a day during the three-day national executive meeting of the Youth Congress beginning from October 2.