Sharp differences in NC over continuance in NDA
10 July 2000
The Hindustan Times
Srinagar: SHARP DIFFERENCES surfaced today at the crucial National Conference Working Committee meeting here on whether to remain in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) following rejection of Jammu and Kashmir Assembly''s autonomy resolution by the Union Cabinet. Highly-placed NC sources told PTI tonight that several speakers favoured pulling out of the NDA as the rejection of resolution was linked to the party''s political base in the state. The speakers, according to the sources, contended that the Centre''s response to the resolution and the attack by the BJP, the leading partner of the NDA, on NC have made it untenable for the party to continue in the alliance. However, some senior leaders of the party are understood to have voiced the need for continuing in NDA as they feel that the state government should work in tandem with the Centre to stamp out militancy from the state. Sensing the mood in the meeting, Chief Minister and party chief Farooq Abdullah bought time by announcing extension of the Working Committee deliberations by a day tomorrow to allow all its 31 members to air their views. So far 10 members have spoken in the meeting. Earlier, NC general secretary Sheikh Nazir came out of the meeting and told reporters in reply to a question that his party would not go for confrontation with the Centre. Nazir said it is not BJP which runs the Union Government but the NDA which is at the helm of affairs at the Centre. Before the start of the meeting, Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah had told reporters that the Working Committee meeting would be over in an hour and mediapersons should be conveyed the decision by this evening itself. ''The working committee session will continue for longer time as only four of the 31 members spoke so far,'' Nazir said. To a question whether the NC has softened its stand, he said ''We have a clear stand on autonomy. We have passed the resolution in the Assembly. We have promised people to restore autonomy and initiated the action by passing a resolution in the Assembly.'' Yesterday Mr Farooq Abdullah had asserted that he has not at any point of time diluted the autonomy issue. Duing his various stints in office, no Constitution amendment order was extended, he said while participating on the concluding day of the two-day seminar on state and regional autonomy. He said the accord between him and former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1986-87 to fight the elections was to bridge the gulf between people.