Congress initiates discussion on power transfer in J&K

New Delhi, Aug 2 | Updated: Aug 3 2005, 05:30am hrs
The Congress has initiated discussion on transfer of power in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) as per the power sharing formula with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), 2002.

Party leadership is working on three strategies. First, Union urban development and parliamentay affairs minister Ghulam Nabi Azad should be shifted to Srinagar and chief minister Mufti Mohd. Sayeed be given a slot in the Union Cabinet in October when he completes three year in office.

Second, Mr Mufti be allowed to continue for the next three years and Congress withdraws claim to the post.

The J&K Constitution provides six years term for the state government.

Third, the next Congress-led government should have a Kashmiri chief minister other than Mr Azad.

According to party sources, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her advisors have been discussing the issue for the last few days. Majority of the Congress Working Committee is in favour of a change in leadership in the state.

However, the top leadership and some central agencies have suggested that Mr Mufti should be allowed to continue for the rest of the term. The view is being endorsed by some local Congress leaders also.

Though some of the leaders from Jammu such as Mangat Ram Sharma feel, with the coming of Mr Azad to Srinagar, they will lose their importance.

Similarly, the Congress rank and file is also in favour of party led-government.

They maintain, Congress should regain power after a lapse of 20 years in the state. Besides, Mr Azad other names in the circulation for the CMs post, include Peerzada Sayeed, Mohd Shafi Kureshi and Saifudeen Soz.

While Mr Peerzada is a supporter of Mr Aazd, Mr Kureshi and Mr Soz have never been on very good terms with Mr Azad.

Mr Kureshi is an old Congress hand but for many years he has been out of the valley and has no strong base in the state whereas, Mr Soz had been in National Conference for a long time.

According to sources close to Mr Azad, he was ready to move to Kashmir initially but situation has now changed. However, the final decision rests with party chief Sonia Gandhi.