Senior Congress leader and Jammu and Kashmir Cabinet minister Taj Mohiuddin rebuffed his own leader Saifuddin Soz on Saturday saying chief minister Omar Abdullah "held consultation with him and will continue his term for another three years".
"I am in touch with the (Congress) party high command (in Delhi). There is no issue of destabilising this coalition government. I can vouch that Omar will continue to be chief minister for next three years," said public health engineering and irrigation minister Mohiuddin at a press conference.
Stressing that Kashmir is not a place where politics can be played, the senior Congress leader said, Omar was within his right to express his opinion on the Armed Forces Special Power Act. "I need not teach him (CM). The CM has said that he is holding consultations with Army and Union home ministry on the issue ...We are sure we will be able to reach a consensus," he said.
His statement reflected a vertical divide within the state Congress party. On Monday, J&K Pradesh Congress Committee chief Saifuddin Soz claimed that the chief minister is not only actor in the state and failed to holds any consultation with the Congress leaders or ministers in the state.
Mohiuddin's statement is contrry to claims being made by Soz. At a Congress public rally, Soz was also projected as chief ministerial candidate by several Congress leaders. Even a Congress spokesman in Delhi accused the coalition government of being low on coordination recently.
"I do not want to react to what Soz has said," said Mohiuddin. He, however, was quick to add that the Congress party has one line of opinion on the AFSPA.
"We think all stake holders should be taken on board, which include the army and the defence ministry. The issue should be brought before the state Cabinet and a consensus is build within. The final report should be handed over to state governor for his nod," said the Congress minister, who has turned very influential in J&K by espousing the cause of water compensation from National Hydroelectricity Power Corporation (NHPC) in the recent past.
On the other hand, Mohiuddin minced no words in opposing removal of AFSPA in the immediate future from any area of J&K. "The time is not yet ripe for revoking the AFSPA. May be next year. May be when we have another peaceful summer. There was no guarantee that the areas, where AFSPA is revoked, will not become a safe haven for militants. Can anyone guarantee that?" he aid.
Ruling National Conference president Farooq Abdullah, also the Union minister for new and renewable energy, too snubbed Soz for his remarks. "There is total coordination (between the coalition partners). I don't know who is unable to perceive this coordination...How can he (Soz) talk about coordination when as the Congress President, he has never taken the pains to talk to me, his coalition party president," he said in Srinagar.