Ahead Of Sonia Trip, Qazi Calls On PDP Chief
9 September 2007
The Indian Express
Srinagar: A day ahead of Congress President Sonia Gandhi's visit to Srinagar, senior People's Democratic Party leader and former minister Qazi Mohammad Afzal on Sunday met party President Mehbooba Mufti. The meeting is significant as Mehbooba is scheduled to meet the Congress President on Monday. 'The two (Sonia and Mehbooba) are likely to discuss many issues, including Qazi's resignation,' a top PDP leader said. 'Now that Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has given a clean chit to Qazi, we hope that Soniaji will ask Azad sahib to give forest portfolio back to the PDP immediately.' Mehbooba, however, denied that she would raise the issue with Sonia on Monday. 'Soniaji is here for a different purpose and I don't want to belittle her visit by raising the issue,' Mehbooba told The Indian Express. 'But yes, our party's stand on Qazi's issue is clear. We want the Forest Ministry should be handed over back to Qazi sahib.' Qazi said Sunday's meeting with the party President was just a routine affair. 'Mehboobaji is leaving for Delhi tomorrow. And it was just a courtesy call,' he said. Sonia will arrive in Srinagar to inaugurate a women's meet at Sher-i-Kashmir International Convocation Centre (SKICC) on the banks of the Dal Lake. The meeting is being organised by the Central Social Welfare Board. Around 6,000 women from the state are likely to participate in the meeting. Sonia and Mehbooba are likely to fly back to Delhi in the afternoon. PDP sources said the latter was likely to brief Sonia about the recent controversy when Qazi was divested of the Forest and Environment Ministry by Chief Minister without consulting the PDP leadership. The Chief Minister's action snowballed into a political crisis when Qazi submitted his resignation. The resignation was, however, not accepted by Azad.