Afzal Guru Clemency Resolution: PDP-NC Pitted Against Cong-BJP23 September 2011
Times of India
Srinagar: With People's Democratic Party announcing support to Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru's clemency resolution to be tabled in the Jammu & Kashmir assembly on September 28, politics in the state surrounding the issue is bound to intensify. Guru was convicted in the December 2001 Parliament attack case and sentenced to death by the Supreme Court. The resolution filed by independent MLA Abdul Rashid Sheikh of Langate is likely to underscore the sharp differences within the state's political class. The National Conference and Congress, which share power, are at the moment on the opposite sides of the divide. The move to pass an assembly resolution along the lines of the one in Tamil Nadu for Rajiv's killers began after Omar's tweet on August 31. 'If J&K Assembly had passed a resolution similar to the Tamil Nadu one for Afzal Guru, would the reaction have been as muted? I think not,' Omar wrote on Twitter. Following this, Rashid Ali filed a resolution and the speaker, Mohammad Akbar Lone, listed the resolution for discussion, debate and voting on September 28. NC has 28 MLAs, PDP 21, Congress 18, and BJP 11. There are nine independents with two nominated members in a House of 89. If both NC and PDP vote for clemency, then, with 49 votes in Guru's favour, the motion will sail through. While BJP and some other parties have already declared they will vote against the resolution, state Congress chief Saifuddin Soz on Thursday hinted that the Congress would vote against the resolution. Addressing a press conference on Friday after PDP legislature party meeting, party chief Mehbooba Mufti said, 'Our stand is to support the clemency resolution because Afzal Guru's hanging would compound the problems in Kashmir.' She added, 'We have always opposed capital punishment. If Rajiv Gandhi murder case convict Nalini's death sentence could be commuted, why can't Afzal Guru's? Rajiv Gandhi was a symbol of Indian democracy no less than the country's Parliament,' she added. The resolution seems bound to be passed with a voice vote given the number of MLAs belonging to National Conference and PDP besides independent MLAs Rashid Sheikh, Hakim Mohammad Yasin and CPM legislator Yousuf Tarigami. 'The resolution's passage would require simple majority,' said Lone. The House debate could possibly sour already strained relations between alliance partners NC and Congress. This was evident also when Soz on Friday said Congress workers at the grassroots are not satisfied with the NC-led government. BJP MLA Ashok Khajuria told TOI that it was ridiculous that the speaker listed the resolution for voting while rejecting the resolution passed in Parliament in 1994 stating that Jammu & Kashmir was an integral part of India.