January 2008 News

Baig takes on Farooq, Rather, top brass of NC

30 January 2008
The Daily Excelsior

Excelsior Correspondent JAMMU: Coalition partners today launched a counter attack on National Conference including party’s top brass-Farooq Abdullah, former Chief Minister, Leader of Opposition Abdul Rahim Rather, Dr Sheikh Mustafa Kamal, MLA and former Minister, Choudhary Mohd Ramzan, former Minister, Mohd Yusuf Taing, MLC and Mohi-ud-Din Shah, late veteran leader of the party. Putting up a united front, almost all Congress, PDP and PDF Ministers and even MLAs joined a press conference addressed by Deputy Chief Minister Muzaffar Hussain Baig after the Assembly was adjourned sine die. Mr Baig, without naming Dr Farooq Abdullah, alleged that a former Chief Minister had constructed his ‘Qila’ (fort) at Bhatindi after taking Forest land from Gujjars through cheating. 'Who has spoiled forests in Bhatindi and Sunjwan is known to all', he said in a virtual counter to NC attack on Forest Minister Qazi Mohd Afzal. Flanked by senior Ministers like Mangat Ram Sharma, Tariq Hamid Qarra, Mula Ram, Taj Mohi-ud-Din, Qazi Mohd Afzal and Rigzin Jora etc, Mr Baig said he would propose to the Cabinet that a Commission be set up to probe the assets of all political leaders since 1975. Without naming anyone, he said there were leaders who didn’t have even shoes to wear but now have crores of rupees. 'We will have to search different foreign banks of different countries for ‘nami’ and ‘benami’ accounts of several leaders', he added. Taking on the Leader of Opposition Abdul Rahim Rather who had been in forefront in attacking Government on Kundal Committee report, the Deputy Chief Minister said he had purchased 400 kanals land at Nagam Kaswari in Kashmir on the name of his wife where water tap was installed from 50 kms distance and sheds were constructed under Indira Awas Yojana (IAY) from Government funds. He said Mr Rather’s kin was allotted a hall at Re 1 per square feet at Panama Chowk as against the prevailing rate of Rs 25 per square feet at that time for business purposes. There was a complaint that Mr Rather had recruited 400 Multi Purpose Workers (MPWs) through backdoor when he was a Minister. The complainants have pointed out that Rs 50,000 to Rs 80,000 were charged per appointment, he alleged. 'Even there were cases in Vigilance Organisation against Mustafa Kamal and Madr-e-Meherbaan', he claimed. Mr Baig said the later NC leader Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din Shah during his tenure as Minister in previous NC Government has recruited 650 employees in local bodies, all though back-door while a former Forest Minister (Choudhary Mohd Ramzan) has made 750 appointments in Forest Protection Force, 224 in IWDP and 13 in Pollution Control Board. Backdoor appointments were also made in Transport, Health and Medical Education and Excise Departments during NC tenure, he added. Pointing out that one Anil Saraf has filed a complaint before State Accountability Commission (SAC) against Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad for backdoor appointments of Bodh Raj Balgotra, Rajinder Tickoo and Rohit Verma as Inspectors, Mr Baig said the appointments of Balgotra and Tickoo had been made in 1979 when Sheikh Mohd Abdullah was president of Cultural Academy in his capacity as Chief Minister of the State while Mohd Yusuf Taing, NC MLA, was its Secretary. In fact, Mr Taing, was an accused in the case, he alleged. 'All these facts and figures would have come up during discussion on Kundal Committee report and that is why the NC was not ready for a discussion on the report', the PDP leader said. He added that the Forest Department has, on its own, referred the irregularities pointed out in the report to Vigilance Organisation and Crime Branch even without waiting for the Chief Minister’s directive. Mr Baig reiterated that no Minister has been charged with taking money or any other financial transactions in Kundal Committee report and, therefore, there was no question of their resignations. He said he personally felt that there was even no need for School Education Minister Peerzada Mohd Sayeed to resign. 'Once he resigned, the NC thought they would made two others to resign', he asserted. On NC leader Ali Mohd Sagar’s allegation that 22 Ministers have been indicted in State Accountability Commission (SAC) report, Mr Baig said even no notice has been issued to some of the Ministers while proceedings against others have been dismissed. 'A mere complaint in the SAC, which can be even made by a NC worker, can’t make a CM or the Minister an accused', he clarified. To a question, he said late SAC chairman, Justice R P Sethi had adopted a 'wrong approach' in dealing with the complaints. 'Soon after receiving the complaint, Justice Sethi used to call cameras and issued statements to media which was not the right approach. In fact, preliminary investigations had to be kept secret', he added. On sine die adjournment of session, the Law Minister asked 'what was the fun of holding session now with the Opposition holding the House to ransom, hurling abuses and not allowing any business'? He noted that Rs 1 crore is spent everyday on Assembly proceedings. However, according to him, the Opposition was conveyed yesterday that if they were not interested in proceedings of the House, the grants can be passed on one day. On Kundal Committee report stating that works had been approved by the Ministers, Mr Baig said the Minister was right in approving works. Asked whether the observations of B R Kundal, presently Chief Secretary of the State, were wrong, he said the Chief Secretary is also a human being. Even the Prime Minister can make errors, he added. Replying to another question, Mr Baig said the present development will have no affect on Assembly elections schedule. He praised Speaker Tara Chand for being so liberal despite 'rowdism' adopted by the Opposition. Wondering that Mr Baig can stoop too low, Leader of Opposition Abdul Rahim Rather, who was also flanked by most of MLAs and MLCs of his party, declared that he would not stay in politics even for a minute if the charges levelled against him including that of 400 kanals land were proved. 'If it was proved that Mr Baig was telling a lie, he should quit politics', he told the mediapersons. 'I don’t have even two rooms to live in the Valley. I have not even a small Maruti car. When I retire from politics, I will have to live in a rented house', he said in an emotion choked voice. Challenging Mr Baig to prove the allegations, Mr Rather declared that he would file a defamation suit against the Law Minister for levelling baseless allegations against him. Alleging that today was the day of 'political burial' of the coalition Government, he said he came to the Assembly despite being ill to participate in 'last rites' of the Government. The day will be remembered as a 'black slot' in the history of Legislature as it was 'unheard off' that entire budget of the year was passed in one minute. 'Entire country is looking at us. What precedents are we setting. The most important Appropriation bill was introduced and passed within seconds', he regretted and noted that there was no need to rush through the business as the State had its budget upto March 31. Mr Rather said the NC had even given an option to the Government to go for a CBI probe against the Ministers if they don’t intend to resign but that demand of the Opposition was also not conceded. 'What was the fun of debate when the ruling party leaders had already given their verdict that the Ministers wouldn’t resign'? he asked. Referring to the charges levelled against former NC Ministers, the Leader of Opposition said if there were any complaints, the Government should have approached the SAC. 'Why the Government was silent for last 5 years'? he asked. Pointing out Mr Baig’s recent statement in Assembly that he was feeling suffocated and was waiting for the Mufti come from abroad to resign, the NC leader asked 'was that a hypocrisy'? Mr Rather said the NC was not against a political party or an individual but it was a prove case against two Ministers inquiry had been ordered by the Chief Minister and was conducted by the Chief Secretary. The Government should have accepted his findings. 'The Government can close down the House but they can’t silence our voice as we will take the case to people’s court. It will spell a political doom for the coalition', he warned. 'I have never talked about enmasse resignation by NC MLAs', Mr Rather said and added that the NC would chalk out its future course of action soon. Earlier, addressing a press conference, Ali Mohd Sagar said the Government has no moral right to continue in the office, should resign and go for fresh polls. Asserting that there was a big question mark on credibility of the Government, Mr Sagar said the NC will take its fight to streets. Addressing a press conference, NPP Legislature Party leader Harshdev Singh, flanked by NPP supremo Bhim Singh and all three MLAs, Balwant Singh Mankotia, Yashpal Kundal and Faqir Nath, took strong exception to Government passing all grants and Appropriation bill in one go. 'This was an escapist policy. We would have exposed the Ministers during debate on the grants for the acts of omissions and commissions committed by them. That is why the Government has adjourned the House sine die', Mr Singh said. Describing today’s incidents in Assembly as 'massacre of democracy and rule of law', Harshdev Singh said the Government has lost its right to govern. 'There was a ‘jungle raj’ in and outside the Assembly. There was a total breakdown of Constitutional machinery. It was high time for the Governor to invoke Section 92 of the Constitution of J&K and dissolve the Assembly, dismiss the Government and hold fresh Assembly elections under independent observers', he said, adding the party will also submit a memorandum to the Governor tomorrow seeking his intervention.

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