Cong Distances Itself From Omar Remarks: J-K Integral Part Of India8 October 2010
The Indian Express
New Delhi: With Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah deciding to play to the separatists’ gallery putting a question mark on the state’s merger with India, the Congress on Friday sought to distance itself from his controversial remarks in the Assembly asserting that the state was an integral part of India. The ruling party at the Centre was, however, clueless as to how to tackle its coalition partner in the state, which has resorted to hardline posturing and Centre-bashing to salvage its dwindling base in the Valley. The Centre was, in the meantime, learnt to have decided against appointing a political person to head the group of interlocutors to hold a sustained dialogue with all shades of opinion in Kashmir. Sources said there was no consensus on any suitable candidate from among Congress politicians to head the group. Also, in the current scenario marked by increasing attempts by the CM to distance himself from the Centre, the ruling Congress was reluctant to be part of the group of interlocutors. Reacting to Omar’s statement in the Assembly on Wednesday that J&K had not merged with India but only acceded to it under certain conditions, Congress spokesman Manish Tewari said, “Since 1947 the Congress has always been firm that the state is an integral part of India and will remain so.” Shocked at the CM’s statement, senior Congress leaders said Omar’s contradictions -his famous “I am an Indian” speech in the Lok Sabha in 2008 and his latest speech in the Assembly -are “totally unacceptable”. “The party High Command was earlier of the view that Abdullah family has been secular and pro-India. That was the reason the party backed him through the months-long crisis despite all the blunders he made. Now that Omar has decided to speak the language of hardliners, there is not much difference between the NC and the PDP for us as far as their core ideology and political philosophy are concerned,” a senior Congress leader told The Indian Express.