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J&K opposition demand fresh state elections

The only common link between the opposition parties at this stage is the alleged divide in the ruling coalition.

india Updated: Nov 06, 2006 12:54 IST

The opposition parties in Jammu and Kashmir have launched a campaign demanding the dissolution of the state assembly and immediate elections to save the state from what they term as political instability, thanks to the infighting between the ruling coalition partners.

The Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Samajwadi Party have made the demand in the recent weeks.

While they have little in common among them, their reasons are identical: they allege that the persistent fight between the Congress and the People's Democratic Party (PDP), the major ruling coalition partners, has left the common man disillusioned.

"Contradictions (in the ruling coalition) are more pronounced than their similarities," Samajwadi Party state unit president Sheikh Abdul Rehman observed. "This government must go."

He referred to the widening gap between the Congress and the PDP, which have been criticising each other in public on various issues including a proposal for self-rule in the state, insurgency and terrorism issues and allocation of portfolios among ministers.

Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had a tussle with his predecessor and PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed over Muzaffar Hussain Baig's place in the cabinet.

Baig, a PDP leader seen as Azad's trusted lieutenant, was given the charge of the important portfolios of planning and finance - against the recommendations of Sayeed - in the August 28 cabinet reshuffle.

Sayeed retaliated by recalling Baig from the ministry - a move that made it clear to all that the ruling coalition partners were not working in tandem.

National Conference president Omar Abdullah commented that the Congress-PDP fight was now affecting people of the state. "This government has failed on all counts," he said.

The government had not done anything for the people, said Abdullah, adding, "The National Conference wants to rid the state of this political fight (between the ruling partners)."

The BJP, which essentially has its base in the Jammu region, is unhappy too. "It is high time that this government was dismissed and fresh elections were held," state BJP vice president and spokesperson Hari Om said.

The current assembly was constituted in November 2002 and elections are due in November 2008 as the term of the Jammu and Kashmir assembly is of six years.

First Published: Nov 06, 2006 12:54 IST