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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014

Gen VK Singh's 'bribe' charge strains NC, Cong ties

Tarun Upadhyay , Hindustan Times  Jammu, October 07, 2013
First Published: 01:05 IST(7/10/2013) | Last Updated: 12:22 IST(7/10/2013)

The strands of political compulsion in the National Conference-Congress alliance are shredding with both parties having polarised opinion on national and local issues. The slow but gradual movement of distancing has become more pronounced with the reported allegations by former army chief Gen VK Singh (retd) about ministers in the state being bribed by the army.

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Though eight former army chiefs in a joint statement have rebuffed the allegations attributed to Gen Singh in a report in national daily and Gen Singh correcting himself on it many a time, the National Conference is not allowing the issue to die, and it's adding to the discomfort of its coalition partner.

The Lower House is scheduled to discuss the issue of allegations levelled by Gen Singh on Monday and the same is also likely to be discussed in Upper House --legislative council, though its chairman has reserved his judgment on it. 

However, the important point is that in Lower House, it's the People's Democratic Party, which has called for discussion, while in Upper House it was the NC, which pressed for discussion on the matter.

"The PDP move for adjournment motion to discuss the allegations of Gen Singh in the council was rendered infructuous after they walked out to protest on it not being allowed. But the next day the NC brought the notice to discuss it under a different set of rules allowing the discussion but without suspension of business," said Congress MLC and party spokesperson Ravinder Sharma.

The Congress, which is in power at the Centre also, has a feeling that the NC is raking up this for its perceived political gains but it has potential of harming it politically, especially when next Parliamentary elections due next year, are likely to be tough task for the party.

The army has maximum presence in the Kashmir region, which is also the traditional base of the NC as it had won 22 out of 28 seats in the last elections from Kashmir. The allegations of its minister being paid by the army put the party in a bad light in the region where army is certainly not a likable institution. 

A section of NC leadership, which is close to chief minister Omar Abdullah, feels that the allegations by Gen Singh, even putting the central government in the dock, have given it a political, tool which could help it in warding off allegations of lackluster governance and change the public perception about it.

"It's not the General's allegations, which will be discussed but the army and public perception about it that will be spelled out by leaders in the House. The NC feels that discussion will send the message that party has political weight to take on army and didn't want PDP to take credit for it after having consistently stepped the gas on the issue," said an senior NC minister wishing not be named.

The Congress feels that the NC, in competitive politics with the PDP, is putting its coalition partner in discomfort. The party holds that since the NC is in government both at the state and Centre, it should desist from raking up the issue, which is not in the interest of both army and democracy.

The discussion is coming in the backdrop of the twin terror attacks at Jammu in which four army personnel had died and a point of view of the Congress was reflected in the statement of tourism minister GA Mir, who said it is not a party to privilege motion moved by the NC against Gen Singh.


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