Peerzada resigns, sends letter to Sonia instead of Omar

Peerzada resigns, sends letter to Sonia instead of Omar

10 February 2012
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tonight divested Congress leader and MLA Kokernag Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed of his Education portfolio. The major development came late tonight few hours after Peerzada submitted his resignation to AICC (I) chief and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi instead of forwarding it to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. 'The Chief Minister has divested Peerzada Sayeed of his Education portfolio', an official spokesman said tonight, adding that the portfolio would remain with the CM till further orders. Though the spokesman didn't give any reasons for divesting Peerzada Sayeed from Education portfolio, reliable sources said the step was taken after the Congress Minister leveled 'serious allegations' against the Chief Minister in his resignation letter. He had refused to submit his resignation to the Chief Minister saying that Omar was himself mired in the controversy involving the death of National Conference worker Mohammad Yusuf Bhat in which Justice Bedi Commission was holding inquiry. Sources said Peerzada was now a Minister without portfolio as his resignation was yet to reach to the Chief Minister for forwarding it to the Governor for acceptance. Earlier in the day, Peerzada faxed his resignation from the Council of Ministry to Mrs Gandhi in the wake of examination scandal in the Board of School Education (BOSE) involving his foster son Imam Souban Bhat. The Crime Branch, which probed the scandal and submitted its report to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Wednesday, had virtually indicted the Minister, his son and BOSE officials. Peerzada described the allegations against him in the examination scam and the Crime Branch report as 'politically motivated', which were 'aimed at maligning my image' and 'make me resign'. 'I have resigned from the Council of Ministers. I have forwarded my resignation to the party high command', Peerzada said. 'It is their (the Congress high command) decision now to decide on it. I do not want to create problems for the party. At the same time, I hopes, the Congress high command will do the justice', he added. 'As far as my statement to the media is concerned, I will call a press conference in a day or two and reveal all facts before the media', Peerzada said. 'The Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had on one hand said the Minister (Peerzada) was not involved but on the other said his fate would be decided in the next 24 hours', Peerzada remarked and said' I am not a kid and it was an attack on my integrity and political career of four decades'. Peerzada has reportedly made serious remarks against the Chief Minister in his resignation letter sent to Sonia Gandhi. AICC (I) Secretary, Incharge Jammu and Kashmir Affairs, Mohan Prakash spoke to Mr Sayeed on telephone from New Delhi this afternoon and conveyed him the decision of party high command to resign in the wake of allegations and the Crime Branch report. PCC (I) chief Prof Saif-ud-Din Soz is also reported to have conveyed the high command decision to Peerzada on telephone. Mr Sayeed, who had to resign for second time in less than six years from the Government in the wake of allegations, first of corruption and now examination scam (both times as Education Minister), is said to have told Mohan Prakash that he would obey the directions of the party high command but wouldn't submit his resignation to the Chief Minister alleging that he himself was 'involved in various controversies' including the death of his own party worker, Yusuf Bhat. Peerzada agreed to submit his resignation to the party high command. Accordingly, he faxed his resignation to Mrs Gandhi this afternoon. According to sources, Sonia Gandhi would take a decision on Peerzada's resignation tomorrow. Supporters of Peerzada also held a demonstration near his house shouting slogans against Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. They blamed the Chief Minister for 'manipulating' the Crime Branch report to remove Peerzada from the Ministry. The Chief Minister is holding the portfolio of R&B since the exit of Congress MLA Ghulam Mohammad Saroori from the Cabinet in addition to Home, Power, GAD, Civil Aviation, Planning, Information, Hospitality and Protocol etc. The portfolio of Education has also been added to his list now. Peerzada's fate seemed to have been sealed after the Crime Branch report, which clearly indicted the then top brass of BOSE, some of whom still hold very important posts in the Education Board, for deputing expert teachers of Math, Urdu and Geography in Al-Ameen examination centre at Srinagar in 2009 Secondary School examinations to write some answers for Souban Bhat to get him passed. The Crime Branch with the help of forensic experts of Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) had established that answer sheets of Souban Bhat carried twin hand writings-one of Bhat and another of expert staff deputed to the examination centre by the BOSE officials to help the Minister's son pass the exam. Bhat had secured distinction in just declared 12th class exam of the BOSE. With the resignation of Peerzada Sayeed, Congress MLA from Kokernag, strength of the Council of Ministry in Omar Abdullah led National Conference-Congress coalition Government will come down to 21 increasing number of vacancies to four. Under the State legislation, upper limit of the Ministry has been fixed at 25 (20 per cent of total strength of both Houses of Legislature). Another Congress Minister Ghulam Mohammad Saroori (R&B), Congress MLA from Inderwal, had been dismissed from the Ministry in August 2010 after MBBS-BDS impersonation scam. With the exit of Peerzada, strength of the Congress Ministers has come down to nine, six of whom were Cabinet Ministers and three Ministers of State. The National Conference has 11 Ministers-nine of Cabinet rank including the Chief Minister and two Ministers of State. Ghulam Hassan Mir is another Cabinet Minister in the Government. With the exit of two Congress Ministers (Saroori and Peerzada), number of the vacancies in the Council of Ministry has risen to four, three of which belonged to the Congress and one to the National Conference. This was for the second time that Peerzada had to resign as a Minister after being surrounded by the controversies. He had resigned as the Education Minister in 2006 during Ghulam Nabi Azad led Congress-PDP coalition Government after Independent MLA Shoaib Lone had on floor of the House alleged that he had paid ' 40,000 bribe to the Minister for getting sanction of ETT classes in his family run college. Mr Lone is now president of the Pradesh Youth Congress.