The disagreement on formation of new administrative units is leading to an increasingly strained relationship between the two coalition partners- the Congress and National Conference (NC) - in the Jammu and Kashmir government.
After chief minister Omar Abdullah 'reluctantly' granted another week to a Cabinet Sub-Committee (CSC) to submit its recommendations on the issue, on January 25, it is learnt that another meeting on the issue in New Delhi on Monday ended in a stalemate.
Sources said that at the meeting - between Omar and senior Congress leaders JK Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) chief Saifuddin Soz, union ministers Ambika Soni and Ghulam Nabi Azad - Omar threatened to resign, if the report was not submitted before February 1.
The Congress, however, reportedly insisted that the issue needed 'more deliberations'.
A senior Congress leader told HT.
"We (The Congress) want that the trouble should just run its course and die. We are not against the setting up of the administrative units, but feel that there should be scientific criteria for their formation."
"There should be no discrimination between the three parts of the valley. The present arrangement seems tilted towards Kashmir. Moreover such decisions are not taken so quickly," he added, on the condition of anonymity.
Sources close to Omar, however, claimed that he was angry at the outcome of the meeting and claimed that the alliance could be near breaking point, if the Congress refused to 'come around'.
A panel formed in 2010, the Mushtaq Ganai committee had recommended increasing the number of sub-divisions in the state from 21 to 44. Among the new 23 sub-divisions, it recommended 10 for Jammu, 12 for Kashmir and one for Ladakh. The committee also recommended an increase in the number of territorial tehsils from 82 to 139. Of the increased tehsils, 28 were recommended in Jammu, 25 in Kashmir and four in Ladakh.
The state government then set up a Cabinet Sub-Committee to implement the recommendations, after the Congress claimed that the Ganaie committee ignored certain sections of the state. Deputy chief minister Tara Chand and ministers Ghulam Ahmed Mir and Nawang Rigzin Jora are part of the CSC, but the report was not given on time.
Trouble has been brewing between the two partners and the most visible sign came on January 23, when a unit of the J&K Congress requested All-India Congress Committee (AICC) vice-president Rahul Gandhi not to enter into any pre-poll arrangement for the Parliament or assembly elections in the State. A delegation headed by state Congress chief Saifuddin Soz had said that the pre poll arrangement would shrink the party's space.
Omar Abdullah?@abdullah_omar on Jan 24
The Cabinet Sub-Committee for new administrative units met me requesting one last week more to complete their recommendations. I rather reluctantly gave them this one week, but I have told them there will be no other cabinet agenda taken up and no further extension. It's unfortunate that this exercise has been on since June. I am determined to complete this important public demand no matter what.