SRI NAGAR: The National Conference and the Congress, alliance partners in the outgoing Jammu and Kashmir Government, are involved in a war of words over Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s six-year tenure and are accusing each other of “blackmail”.
The war of words started on October 24 when senior Congress leader and Flood Control Minister Sham Lal Sharma resigned, accusing Finance Minister Abdur Rahim Rather and Higher Education Minister Ghulam Nabi Lone of resorting to “blackmail” and “discrimination” against daily-wage and casual workers from the Jammu region.
He alleged that the two ministers belonging to the National Conference pressured him to regularise certain workers of their choice.
“One of the ministers [Lone] gave me a list of 500 persons in my department whom he wanted me to regularise. Rather intentionally I adopted dilly-dallying tactics on issue of the regularisation of casual labourers and need-based workers,” Sharma said.
On Saturday, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said his party was paying the price for its alliance with the National Conference, and that the government had lost the people’s confidence.
“We should have insisted on the 2002 power-sharing formula of rotational Chief Ministership. Things would have been promising had the Congress not allowed Omar to continue to lead the coalition government after January 4, 2012, when he completed three years in office,” Azad said.
Reacting to the Congress leaders’ allegations, National Conference spokesman Junaid Mattoo said Azad was blaming his party for a decision that the Congress high command and Azad were party to.
“The Congress didn’t get the mandate for the rotational CM seat in 2008. The National Conference emerged as the single-largest party with 28 MLAs, and the Congress had only 17 MLAs. The decision to allow the National Conference to take the Chief Minister’s chair for six years was taken based on logic and merit. This decision was jointly taken by the National Conference leadership and Congress high command. At that time Azad not only endorsed the decision but was also party to it,” he said.
The NC spokesman termed Azad’s remarks unfortunate, saying the Congress had held key Cabinet portfolios in the coalition government. And rather termed the blackmailing allegations “totally misconceived and far from truth”. He also denied asking Sharma to regularise anybody under the latter’s departments.