With no respite in the unrest in the Kashmir Valley, Congress' patience with beleaguered Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah appears to be wearing thin.
"Our alliance is with National Conference (NC). It is up to the NC to decide whom to elect as chief minister and they have chosen Omar," Congress spokesman Manish Tewari said when asked about BJP's demand for replacement of Omar in the wake of the volatile situation in the Valley.
Tewari, who was subjected to a volley of questions, had earlier taken the plea that "the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir is competent to answer this question. It is better if the question is put to him".
The Congress spokesman's remarks were significant given the fact that Omar had a meeting with the party chief Sonia Gandhi and Home Minister P Chidambaram today earlier in the day ahead of the crucial meeting of Cabinet Committee on Security, which discussed the Kashmir situation.
A senior Congress leader, on condition of anonymity, said that options before the government are limited as far a change of guard in the state is concerned.
"One option is replacing Omar with his father but Farooq Abdullah will not like it. Another option is to have a Congress Chief Minister to which the NC will not agree. The third option is Congress forming a government with PDP about which there is no thinking.
"The fourth option is to withdraw support from the Omar government and bring President Rule in the state while keeping the assembly in suspended animation. The problem with this option is that the Centre would come in direct confrontation with the separatists backed by their masters from Pakistan," the leader said.
At the AICC briefing, Tewari steered clear of questions on whether Congress stands by its alliance partner, which is seeking withdrawal of AFSPA from certain areas of the state, or by Army which is said to be opposed to the move.
"It is not a question of standing by Army or by our coalition partner. It is a question of taking a holistic view... Government must have taken all the sentiments into account...," he said.
The Congress spokesperson at the same time attacked BJP for its criticism of the state and central government over the volatile situation in Kashmir saying the main opposition party is doing it "essentially to disguise their complete opportunism" of forming a government with JMM in Jharkhand.
He said the party should take a lesson from its own Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who tried to solve the issue from 1999 to 2004 instead of making "irresponsible statements".
A responsible opposition should understand the sensitivity of the issue and allow the government to deal with the matter.
Asked whether the government is in a position to provide security for the Commonwealth Games, Tewari said the country has held many events in past and the security forces are competent to handle any situation.