Congress may refer to 1975 agreement
14 June 2000
The Indian Express
New Delhi: Congress leaders from Jammu and Kashmir are holding consultations with Central leaders on what stand the party should take on the autonomy issue which is coming up for debate at a special session of assembly. Led by the newly-designated PCC president , Mohammad Shafi Qureshi, party leaders have been discussing the issue for two days. Qureshi told The Indian Express the discussion has taken longer than expected as ''everyone needs to speak up on the crucial issue''. Although he denied reports about differences within the CLP, sources said the leaders were divided along regional lines. The Congress high Command had constituted a seven member committee which included veterans like Ghulam Nabi Azad , Dr. Manmohan Singh and M L Fotedar to look into the autonomy issue. Qureshi, along with members of the CLP and two former MP''s have been discussing the autonomy issue with the high command for two days. Autonomy is generally seen as a Kashmir Centric demand and people in the other two regions of Jammu and ladakh are against it. The Congress can ill afford to annoy the people of Jammu and ladakh where the party has some electoral base. At the same time it cannot afford to go against the aspirations of the Kashmiris. The party has been rendered almost irrelevant in Kashmir after the exit of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and Qureshi faces the challenge of reviving the party in the valley. Sources say the Central leadership was likely to advise the CLP members to go for a new line as against Abdullah''s demand for revival of the pre-1953 constitutional status. The Congress would invoke the spirit of the 1975 agreement between Sheikh Abdullah and Indira Gandhi. The agreement had made Congress give up power in favour of Sheikh Abdullah as Chief Minister. It had helped end the hostility between the Center and Jammu and Kashmir. Congress leaders feel this stand would be distinct as against the pro-autonomy stance of the NC and the anti-autonomy stand of the BJP,sources said.