Congress Meet On CM Issue Today
22 May 2005
The Indian Express
Jammu: WITH only five months left for the term of the Mufti-led coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir coming to an end, the All India Congress Committee will discuss the matter of Chief Ministership with its leaders from the strife-torn state in New Delhi tomorrow. This will be the first time that the Congress High Command will discuss the issue of the chief minister with its J-K leaders. In keeping with the pact, the PDP's term of having its CM, will end in November this year and then the Congress would be taking the reins of the government in the state. The J-K Congress leaders core group meeting, which has been called on the direction of AICC president Sonia Gandhi, will be chaired by AICC general secretary and J-K party incharge, Ambika Soni. Sources said that the meeting has been called to know the reactions of party leaders in J-K on the matter of the chief minister. Congress president Sonia Gandhi had said recently that the Party High Command had not yet given thought to the matter of chief ministership in J-K. However, observers feel that the meeting has been called just to know the reaction of the party rank and file in the state. There has been speculation that Sonia Gandhi is not in favour of any change, however, Union Minister and senior party leader from J-K, Ghulam Nabi Azad during his meetings with party leaders from the state had hinted that there may be a Congress-led government in the state in the near future. If the Party High Command gives the green signal for a change, Azad is considered to be at the top of the Congress list for the chief minister's chair. However, he himself is reportedly not interested in the post and wants to remain in Central politics. The Party High Command will also review the performance of Congress ministers in the Mufti-led coalition government in the state. There had been speculation that the party may not recommend a few of its ministers in the next Cabinet reshuffle in the state. Sources said that the Party High Command will also give its opinion on the Pradesh Congress Committee president (for which election will be held by the month-end) at the meeting. Present PCC chief Peerzada Sayeed is considered to be in the race again. The security scenario in the state and a sudden spurt in terrorist-related violence is also likely to be discussed at the meeting. The meeting wil be attended by Rajya Sabha member Dr Karan Singh, Union Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, J-K Pradesh Congress Committee president Peerzada Sayeed, Deputy Chief Minister Mangat Ram Sharma, former PCC chief Chowdhary Mohammad Aslam and party MPs Saif-ud-Din Sauz, Madan Lal Sharma, Lal Singh and T Chewang.