National conference leader Omar Abdullah is believed to have conveyed to the Congress leadership not to nominate any “tainted" member as his deputy chief minister or a member of his Cabinet when he takes oath, possibly on January 5.
This raises the prospects of Sham Lal Sharma being considered for the post. Among those who were in the reckoning earlier included former Speaker Tara Chand. A Hindu MLA from the Jammu region is slated for the post to give a regional and social balance to the team
After a meeting of senior Congress and NC leaders at External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s office on Thursday, Abdullah said he’ll take oath with two NC and three Congress members “before January 6”.
But there was no formal word on key issues, including whether the coalition would go for a rotational arrangement or Abdullah would be given a full six-year term as party leaders have been saying. There was also no word on the choice of a deputy CM, number of ministers from both sides and the allocation of portfolios.
"All these issues will be made clear when he’s sworn in," said Prithviraj Chavan, Congress general secretary in charge of J&K. "There will be a mechanism to review the functioning on policy matters as and when necessary,’’ he said.
The two sides will also work out a common minimum programme. “But first let there be a government,’’ said Abdullah, who wanted to take oath after Moharram (on January 8) but will have to do it before January 6 as a CMs’ meeting on security is slated that day.
Both sides decided to take forward their alliance and contest the Lok Sabha elections jointly. Abdullah said he would on Friday write to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee and Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari to admit the NC into the UPA.
Unless the PDP walks out of the alliance, both the regional parties of the state would be part of the Congress-led coalition much like Bihar’s RJD and LJP are.