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NC-PDP sabre rattling over self rule

The spark has been provided by PDP patron and former Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed, reports Arun Joshi.

india Updated: Nov 02, 2006 20:04 IST
Arun Joshi

They had never sheathed their daggers, but now the political sabre rattling between National Conference and PDP is in open. The spark has been provided by PDP patron and former Chief Minister Mufti, once he sketched out the political map and ingredients of his party's self rule last weekend.

On Wednesday it was National Conference president Omar Abdullah spitting fire at PDP. He charged the PDP leadership - essentially Mufti Sayeed and his daughter and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti - playing to the tunes of Delhi and befooling the people of Kashmir on self rule.

Today, it was Mehbooba Mufti's turn. She told National Conference not to panic and instead face the reality that "PDP had the will, energy and the commitment to work for a lasting solution of Kashmir crisis through its self rule formula."

"We are carrying forward our people-friendly agenda. It neither belongs to Delhi or Islamabad", she told party workers in Srinagar, and advised the National Conference to turn the pages of its own history before levelling allegations against others.

The fight would sharpen in the days to come, as the two regional political powers are unwilling to give ground to the other. NC wants to regain the power it lost in 2002. It is revenge hungry, politically. Its appetite is sharpening as the knock of the Assembly elections is becoming audible, even though those are scheduled for 2008.

PDP has discovered that it has the position and the strength to consolidate its position and win more seats in the next Assembly elections to propel itself onto the front seat of Kashmir politics.

Omar had specially flown from Delhi to address a press conference in Srinagar to ridicule the self-rule. " It was a Xerox copy of the autonomy document of National Conference." The PDP, like NC, was calling for reversal of the central laws, restoration of the office of Sadr-e-Riyasat, akin to the "elected Governor" idea.

He also referred the transfer of property Act by way of which outsiders could buy property in Jammu and Kashmir. It is a dilution of the Article 370 of the Indian constitution meant to safeguard the distinct identity and rights of the people. Outsiders are barred from acquiring immovable property in the state.

Omar also recalled the way Permanent Resident (disqualification) Bill could not be passed in the state legislature. The proposed law had sought to bar the women marrying non-permanent residents of the state from retaining their citizenship rights in Jammu and Kashmir.

PDP and NC were of the view that the bill will be passed. But the Congress did not support it, and it could not be passed.

He once again dared PDP leadership to table the self-rule on the table of the Assembly.

Undeterred by these slings, Mehbooba Mufti responded her "party will push, with full vigour and sincerity, its agenda for peaceful, dignified and realistic solution of the Kashmir problem."

" PDP is not carrying forward any agenda of Delhi or Pakistan."

She said that the PDP has come into existence just to plead the right cause of people of Jammu and Kashmir to live dignified life and achieve long-lasting peace in the state."

As if to reiterate that Delhi was backing them in their political and economic issues, Mehbooba acknowledged, the "generous financial assistance extended by the Central Government for rebuilding infrastructure and rejuvenating Jammu and Kashmir's sluggish economy."

"There was a need for complimenting it with sustained political initiatives to evolve consensus on the need for resolving the problem through peaceful means. She said at this moment at joint, concerted and comprehensive effort is imperative to make Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh politically stable and economically strong and integrate it with the developing global market economy."

In a clever political positioning, Mehbooba did not speak of just three years of PDP government, but the four years of the coalition government- a demonstrative way of telling the people that the Ghulam Nabi Azad government too was governed by the Common Minimum Programme- the policy document of their coalition government in the state since November 2, 2002.

Azad is celebrating the first anniversary of his government in office on Thursday.

Mehbooba Mufti said, "initiatives taken during the past four years of coalition government in the state have transformed the public mindset in the sub-continent and said the foundation for reconciliation and cooperation".

"A defining moment has come for making the peace process meaningful and add substance to it by addressing the specifics." She visualised that "Self-Rule is most viable solution to solve Kashmir tangle and it will take sailing boat of Kashmir to safe shore."

Whether PDP has committed a political theft- NC's charge- or come out with something original. The glimpses of spectacle of political fight of the kind the two parties fought in the run up to the 2002 Assembly elections - are visible. Those would sharpen once Mufti Sayeed returns from the United Nations next month.

First Published: Nov 02, 2006 19:57 IST