JAMMU: Ahead of announcement of elections in Jammu and Kashmir, Congress Minister Sham Lal Sharma, who has been facing criticism over handling of recent floods, has tendered his resignation from the Omar Abdullah ministry.
Citing alleged sabotage of regularisation of daily wagers as a reason for tendering his resignation, Sharma, who is Minister for Public Health Engineering and Flood Control, met Jammu and Kashmir's Congress Chief Saif-ud-din Soz last night and handed over his resignation.
"I have submitted my resignation to the Prof Saifuddin Soz as the Chief Minister is out of station," Sharma told PTI here today.
Alleging sabotage by National Conference leader and Finance Minister Adul Rahim Rather in taking steps for regularisation of daily wagers in the state, Sharma said "it was intentional dilly-dallying tactics by the Minister for Finance Abdul Rahim Rather who is head of the Cabinet Sub-Committee on the regularisation of thousands of casual workers engaged from time to time since 1994."
"Justice is being denied to such a large number of casual workers since 2009 when Cabinet Sub-Committee was constituted to look into the grievances of all sections of employees and workers," he said.
In an attempt to play 'Jammu card', he claimed National Conference ministers were blocking the move because there were more daily wagers from Jammu region.
However, the charge was denied by National Conference as a "political stunt" ahead of announcement of elections in the state. "It's a political stunt and this move has more to do with the internal dynamics of Congress party," said National Conference's Jammu province President Davinder Singh Rana.
Indicating that Sharma may be leaving Congress, Rana said "there is a possibility also that he may be nursing some other political ambitions."
Sharma, an MLA from Akhnoor, was recently criticised by his own Congress Minister Taj Mohiuddin who alleged that the flood control minister had stopped dredging work in the Kashmir Valley which aggravated the flood situation.
Sharma, however, said he would continue to be in Congress.
"I have only resigned from the government and not from the Congress party. I was a Congress worker and will remain one," he said.
Rather was not available for comment. Meanwhile, state Congress's chief spokesman Farooq Renzu Shah has tendered his resignation to party president Sonia Gandhi, alleging that the "floods were fully mismanaged" by Sharma which led to "deliberate drowning" of Srinagar and South Kashmir.