The Jammu and Kashmir Congress has blamed chief minister Omar Abdullah for the latest tussle between the two coalition partners, the Congress and the National Conference.
Speaking to Hindustan Times on Wednesday, Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee chief Saifuddin Soz said the “supposed” disagreement on the formation of new administrative units was due to Omar’s “out of turn reaction”. This, in spite of reports that the Congress high command in Delhi has extended support to the CM.
“The Congress is on the path of justice and equality for people of all regions in the state. The cabinet sub-committee has done a good job on finding out what people’s demands were. The CM should have acted or reacted accordingly. He reacted out of turn, and if anything harms the coalition, it will be his responsibility,” Soz alleged.
The formation of new administrative units in the state has led to an increasingly strained relationship between the two coalition partners, which seem to be on the brink of a split as the CM has threatened to resign.
After the CM on January 25 “reluctantly” granted another week to the cabinet sub-committee constituted for the purpose to submit its recommendations on the issue, another meeting on the issue in New Delhi on Monday ended in a stalemate, sources said.
They added that at the meeting, held between Omar, senior Congress leader Soz, union ministers Ambika Soni and Ghulam Nabi Azad, Omar threatened to resign as the CM if the report was not submitted before February 1. The Congress, however, reportedly insisted that the issue needed “more deliberations”.
Abdullah’s political advisor Tanvir Sadiq said the NC was waiting for the cabinet meeting on February 1, and would decide after that. “These are just rumours, and no one is resigning. The coalition is strong. We are waiting for the cabinet meeting and will take a decision after that,” Sadiq told Hindustan Times.
The Congress has been saying that the government’s initial proposal for the formation of administrative units was “discriminatory” in nature. “It seemed biased towards Kashmir,” said another Congress leader, on the condition of anonymity.
According to reports, Congress has now proposed more units than the NC’s initial proposal, with deputy chief minister Tara Chand, a senior Congress leader from the Jammu region, recommending the formation of 2,000 to 2,500 new administrative units, against the 700 favoured by Abdullah’s party.
Story till now
The Mushtaq Ganai committee set up in 2010 had recommended that the number of sub-divisions in the state be increased from 21 to 44. Among the new 23 sub-divisions, it recommended 10 for Jammu, 12 for Kashmir and one for Ladakh. The committee also recommended an increase in the number of territorial tehsils from 82 to 139. Of the increased tehsils, 28 were to be created in Jammu, 25 in Kashmir and four in Ladakh.
The state government then set up a cabinet sub-committee to implement the recommendations, after the Congress claimed that the Ganai committee had ignored certain sections of the state. Deputy chief minister Tara Chand and ministers Ghulam Ahmed Mir and Nawang Rigzin Jora are part of the CSC, but the report was not given on time.
Trouble has been brewing between the two coalition partners and the most visible sign came on January 23, when a unit of the state Congress requested All-India Congress Committee (AICC) vice-president Rahul Gandhi not to enter into any pre-poll arrangement for Parliament or assembly elections in the state. A delegation headed by state Congress chief Saifuddin Soz had said the pre-poll arrangement would “shrink” the party’s space.
On January 24, Omar had tweeted:
The cabinet sub committee for new administrative units met me requesting one last week more to complete their recommendations
The cabinet sub committee for new administrative units met me requesting one last week more to complete their recommendations. 1/3— Omar Abdullah (@abdullah_omar) January 24, 2014
While I rather reluctantly gave them this one week I've told them there will be no other cabinet agenda taken up & no further extension
While I rather reluctantly gave them this one week I've told them there will be no other cabinet agenda taken up & no further extension 2/3— Omar Abdullah (@abdullah_omar) January 24, 2014
It's unfortunate that this exercise has taken since June but I'm determined to complete this important public demand no matter what
It's unfortunate that this exercise has taken since June but I'm determined to complete this important public demand no matter what 3/3— Omar Abdullah (@abdullah_omar) January 24, 2014