Dissatisfaction with the ruling coalition partner National Conference (NC) dominated the one-day high-level Congress convention headed by party stalwarts Ambika Soni and Ghulam Nabi Azad in Srinagar on Sunday.
Azad, who is also union health minister, pointed towards “rising corruption” in the state. “In 2002, the Congress came to power after a long gap. Somehow I managed to reshape the party...During my tenure (as chief minister) I tried my best to end nepotism, favouritism and corruption in the government. But the corrupt practices in the government are denting the party image,” Azad was quoted by a source privy to the closed-door meeting held at Srinagar Sher-i-Kashmir International Convention Centre (SKICC).
Thirty local Congress leaders apprised the senior party leaders, including Kashmir affairs in-charge Soni and PCC chief Saifuddin Soz, about functioning of the government and the party.
Senior Congress leader Abdul Ghani Vakil called the present tie-up with the Omar Abdullah-led NC as “not only a sad but bad coalition”.
The differences between the ruling partners over governance has come to the fore first time in such a high-level meeting.
Insiders quoted Soni saying that “resigning from the coalition was not easy.” “I do not want the party to face any humiliation,” said Soni in an attempt to assuage the aggrieved Congress leaders.
Most local Congress leader accused the NC of delaying local bodies’ polls. In a four-point party resolution passed, the leaders stressed that “there was a need to hold local bodies’ polls as early as possible.”
Conspicuously, the meeting saw no discussion on pre-poll alliance with the NC. Azad recently made it clear that the option to form next government “was open”.
The state will go to the assembly polls next year. The coalition partners, which of late are showing some signs of differences --- obvious from the recent Kargil council polls too where they fought against each other --- have failed to even tie-up for the Parliament elections due early next year.
Meanwhile, both Azad and Soni asked the party leaders to show unity. Soni asked the ministers “to strengthen their liaison with party cadres at all levels and assist the J&K PCC president in promoting the party’s interest”.
Four-point Congress resolution
1. Need for maintaining unity and integrity of the J&K state. The Congress party alone, which has very large presence in all the three regions of the state, could ensure the unity and balanced development of all the three regions.
2. The Resolution on Land Acquisition Act would lift the land owing community to a position of prosperity and dignity in life. This act and Food Security Act would together revolutionize the scene all around
3. Need to hold elections to the local bodies as early as possible.
4. Resolve of the J&K Pradesh Congress Committee to urge the coalition government to incorporate important provisions of the 73rd Amendment of the Constitution of India that aim to strengthen Panchayat Raj Institutions in the J&K State.