Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi will visit Jammu and Kashmir for two days from November 6 to address panchayat conferences and interact with party leaders and workers.
Rahul Gandhi and Omar Abdullah wear traditional Karakul caps during an election campaign in Anantnag. (HT Files)
The visit is seen by political observers as a move by the Congress to put pressure on its ruling coalition partner, the National Conference (NC), to incorporate certain provisions of the 73rd and 74th amendments of the Constitution — which seek to empower panchayats — in the state panchayati raj act.
The provisions include discarding with the nomination system and holding panchayat elections at all levels.
The issue has been a bone of contention between the two parties for some time now with the NC arguing that since J&K has its own panchayati raj act there is no need to implement the amendments and that these would be incorporated in its own constitution. The NC also is worried that the move may affect the state’s special status.
The issue is bound to cast a shadow on the future of the alliance ahead of the Lok Sabha and assembly elections in 2014. During her visit to the state on September 20, Congress general secretary in-charge of J&K affairs Ambika Soni had set two-month deadline for the NC to incorporate the amendment.
“NC is trying to sabotage the move and are indulging in delaying tactics,” state Congress leader Abdul Ghani Vakil said.
However, J&K Congress sources said the two had arrived at a consensus in their coordination committing meeting on some provisions, including setting up separate finance and election commissions for the panchayat polls. Congress had set up two committees — one in Jammu headed by Ravinder Sharma and another in Kashmir led by Ghulam Ahmed Mir — to prepare a report on the provisions to be incorporated in the state act.