Former minister Ghulam Ahmed Mir will soon be named as the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief in Jammu and Kashmir, replacing 77-year-old Saifuddin Soz.
Mir, 55, was the tourism minister in the previous Omar Abdullah government. He had lost the last year’s state assembly elections from Dooru in south Kashmir.
The proposed move is widely seen as an attempt by the party leadership to strike a balance of power in the faction-ridden state unit. Mir belonged to the group that owed its allegiance to Soz and is considered a staunch opponent of Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad.
Mir was among those arrested by the CBI in the sex racket that rocked Kashmir in 2006 in which girls, including minors, were allegedly forced into prostitution, blackmailed and supplied to politicians, senior bureaucrats, top police officials and even surrendered militants.
However, a special CBI court — the Supreme Court had ordered transferring of the case to Chandigarh on the plea of accused who contended that no lawyer in Srinagar was willing to defend them — in September 2012 acquitted Mir and others in the scandal after all the prosecution witnesses turned hostile. Some months later, he was inducted in the National Conference-Congress coalition government.
Soz’s tenure as the PCC chief — that started in February 2008 — was marred by internal feud, prompting Congress president Sonia Gandhi to intervene.