J&K Bill To Be Made A Poll Issue
15 March 2004
Jammu: Political parties in Jammu and Kashmir are making all-out efforts to make the Permanent Resident (Disqualification) Bill 2004 - whose fate remains undecided as of now - a poll issue. Already all the parties are exerting pressure on the Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, to call a special session of the Legislative Council to decide it. For both the National Conference (NC) and the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP), there are a lot of stakes in the Lok Sabha elections. While the NC wants to send a message that it has recovered its base, which it had lost in the last Assembly elections, the PDP needs to prove that its is intact. The NC president, Omar Abdullah, has charged the Chief Minister with a conspiracy to prevent the passage of the Bill in the Council. He challenged the Mufti to convene a fresh session of the Upper House. According to him, the Chief Minister can request the convening of the session for the purpose. If he (Mufti) remained silent, it would be 'tantamount to betrayal.' Reacting to this charge, the PDP president, Mehbooba Mufti, accused the NC of spreading canards to mislead the people. The Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party chief and MLC, Bhim Singh, has also been holding rallies here and has demanded the convening of a special session of the Council. The State unit of the Congress has, however, maintained a guarded silence on the issue. Sources told The Hindu that the Council chairman, Abdul Rashid Dar, has held closed- door meetings with legislators of various parties to seek their opinion on the issue.