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Timing the essence of Rahul's J&K visit

Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi’s two-day visit to J&K may emerge as a game changer in the state’s politics. Arun Joshi reports.

india Updated: Sep 26, 2011 02:07 IST
Arun Joshi

Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi’s two-day visit to J&K may emerge as a game changer in the state’s politics.

Gandhi’s visit, beginning on Monday, will touch Srinagar, Jammu, Kargil and Rajouri. Even though party sources claim the visit is essentially meant to boost the Youth Congress membership drive in the state, the timing of it is crucial, say political analysts.

The state is currently waiting for the interlocutors’ report and a resolution seeking clemency for Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru is to be debated in the assembly. A controversy has erupted over 2000 unnamed bodies found in the state and a section of the state Congress is aiming for the chief minister’s chair, insisting that the post be rotated between the two coalition allies.

A year ago, Gandhi had come out in support of chief minister Omar Abdullah, arguing that he needed “more time and support”. His statements had put a stop to a campaign by some Congress leaders to get Abdullah replaced.

Gul Wani, a professor in the political science department of Kashmir University, underlined the friendship between Gandhi and Abdullah. “Rahul and Omar enjoy excellent chemistry,” he said.

“Rahul’s visit might also have more to do with the troubles within his own party, especially in view of the ailment of party chief and his mother Sonia Gandhi,” Wani said.

Currently, the state Congress is weighed down by infighting and it has serious complaints regarding the way the National Conference-led coalition government is being run.

On Thursday, Pradesh Congress Committee chief Saif-ud-Din Soz had admitted that the “Congress workers have grievances against the dispensation of the coalition government”.

“Kashmir,” Wani said, “is important for Gandhi and it can certainly be a game changer for him.”