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Congress, PDP quarrels threaten alliance

The ideological, political and individual issues of the alliance have come out in open, reports Arun Joshi.

india Updated: Dec 20, 2006 19:54 IST
Arun Joshi

Two allies Congress and PDP Jammu and Kashmir are offering a school boy squabble spectacle in public, as their war of words is threatening the very existence of the four-year-old alliance, which has been rocky from the very beginning.

The issues - ideological, political and individual egos - confronting the alliance partners have come out in open. On Wednesday, Finance Minister Tariq Hameed Karra, who is fighting on behalf of the Peoples Democratic Party, did not attend a cabinet meeting. That indicated a clear defiance, for he told reporters that he is not obliged to attend the cabinet meetings at a short notice.

Karra, however, attended his office in the civil secretariat in further show of defiance. His office is located on the same floor as that of chief minister and also where the cabinet meetings are held.

Finance minister is protesting against a government circular that obligates his ministry to seek prior permission of chief minister before making additional fund allocations for development schemes to particular areas.

But, as it appeared, Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad is in no mood to relent.

It all started on Monday. At a cabinet meeting, chief minister and Karra had heated arguments, which provoked Azad to hold out a threat to dissolve the Assembly and hold fresh elections. This was for the first time that chief minister had said it as many words, indicating that how the alliance with PDP was becoming a problem for him.

The matters exacerbated on Tuesday, when Karra challenged chief minister’s assertion. He questioned whether "chief minister had the sole prerogative to dissolve the House."

"Even if the assembly is dissolved, PDP is prepared to face the polls," Karra said at a "Meet The Press" programme of Jammu Press Club on Tuesday. He was answering questions on what transpired in the cabinet meeting a day earlier.

In less than 24 hours, a matter of a closed door cabinet meeting, became public all at once. And the media grabbed that in its headlines.

With Karra staying away from the cabinet meeting, which, however, was attended by three other PDP ministers, the matters are on a boil.

This is a second major crisis in the alliance in less than four months. Earlier, in August-September the alliance was on rocks, when chief minister had sought to use his "prerogative" in allocation of portfolios and allotted important Finance and Planning portfolios to the then Deputy Chief Minister Muzzaffar Hussain Baig.

Infuriated by this, PDP had recalled Baig from the ministry, and also removed him from the leadership of PDP legislature party. Those strains were still unrepaired, when the fresh strains have come to hit the coalition partners.

Congress is threatening dissolution of assembly and going in for fresh elections, PDP has announced its will to face the polls. The main opposition party, amused at the political developments within the government, has predicted the collapse of the coalition government.

"I wonder how the Congress-PDP alliance can survive in this kind of situation," wondered National Conference President Omar Abdullah.

First Published: Dec 20, 2006 19:54 IST