War Of Words Over J&K Bill
31 March 2004
Jammu: The controversial Permanent Resident (Disqualification) Bill, 2004 has become a hot poll issue in the State and the campaign has seen a 'war of words' among political parties. Not only the archrivals, the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) and the National Conference (NC), but also the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party have been trading charges. The Congress nominee for the Jammu-Poonch Lok Sabha segment and State Works Minister, Madan Lal Sharma, is busy explaining to the people that his party would not allow the Bill to be passed in its present form but send it to a select committee. Today, the BJP State unit targeted the Congress on the issue. The BJP nominee, Nirmal Singh, accused the Congress of dancing to the tunes of its ally, the PDP. Since the controversy started, the PDP and the NC have blamed each other for the non-passage of the Bill. The former Chief Minister and National Conference patron, Farooq Abdullah, has defended the Bill terming its passage essential for preserving the special status of the State guaranteed under Article 370 of the Constitution. The PDP has also been stoutly defending it. Ironically, in some of the areas where PDP leaders campaigned for the Congress in Jammu, they (PDP) spoke in favour of the Bill. This is in contrast to the Congress' stand.