There was high tension visible between the two major coalition partners — Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Congress on Wednesday following PDP having written a letter to Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad seeking withdrawal of their security cover to facilitate demilitarisation of the state.
While Chief Minister was not available for his comments, PDP leaders moved around with lesser security. Some of the ministers came to the Legislative Assembly without escort vehicles. They said that they have endorsed party patron's strand that the security cover be withdrawn for the reduction of troops. "Now we are waiting for Chief Minister to take next step," Finance Minister Tariq Hameed Karra said.
The leaders of the two sides were cold to each other even in the Assembly. Their conversation did not last beyond curt exchange of greetings.
PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti admitted that there was a "lack of understanding between the two partners and the current situation is reflective of that."
Congress was unhappy that PDP leadership had not seen through the spirit of Monday speech of Chief Minister and tried to play a politics with "a single-minded obsession of embarrassing the Azad government."
It became apparent when Congress MLA Yogesh Sawhney voiced his concern as to why the issue of the security surrender has been allowed in the House. "Once you have ruled that this issue would not be discussed in the House, that it is being raised," he said pointing toward former Deputy Chief Minister Muzzaffar Hussain Baig who made a strong defense of his party's latest move, which he said was in line with the thinking of National Conference and Hurriyat Conference too.
Chief Minister did not attend proceedings of the Assembly for the day.
CPI-M Secretary and senior MLA MY Tarigami said that the two partners were "acting in an irresponsible fashion."
"That they are talking to each other through media shows how much is the communication gap and tensions between the two," Tarigami observed.
Former Minister and senior National Conference leader Mustafa Kamal reminded PDP that it was their leader, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who during his tenure as Union Home Minister, had brought troops and conferred special powers to them.
It was in July 1990, when Jammu and Kashmir was under Central rule that the security forces were empowered with Disturbed Area Act and Special Powers Act. Mufti Sayeed was Home Minister in the VP Singh Government at that time.
Congress, however, was angry that three parts of Azad's speech were not understood.
It was observed, that Chief Minister said that the calls for the removal of troops and reducing their troops did not match the ground realities. The Chief Minister had also stated that, according to him the situation had not returned to the peacetimes of 1988, therefore such a step could not be taken.
PDP has picked up one part, that too in a twisted manner and exploited it, a Congress minister said.
"That Azad was right in his observations is clear from the contradictory voices in which the PDP leadership was speaking about the subject," he said referring to Baig's statement that they had taken this step "at the risk of their lives".
"Who is causing the risk to their lives, obviously not security personnel? They are guarding them. Therefore, the threat is from the terrorists."
"That obviously makes it clear that they also did not feel that the situation had come for the recall of security forces."
"No government worth its salt can allow the people to be killed at the hands of terrorists," he said.
Azad had laid the condition still warranted troops and the peace times were not there as yet. "So what wrong has he done?" it was asked.