Will Ripples Of Congress Debacle Reach J&K?

Will Ripples Of Congress Debacle Reach J&K?

6 March 2012
Greater Kashmir
Javaid Malik

Srinagar: With Congress fortunes dwindling across the country in the wake of elections to five states including UP, observers here are keeping their fingers crossed about its fallout on J&K where the party holds the undisputed position of a kingmaker “who often behaves as the king.” Though there is a general feeling that the stability of state government was not in any immediate danger but two things, one from the history and another contemporary, need to be considered. History first: In 1977 after the phenomenal rout of Indira Gandhi in post emergency elections, the coalition in J&K led then by Omar Abdullah’s grandfather following 1975 accord was pulled down. State Congress immediately pulled the rug following Sheikh’s continued diatribe against local Congress on which he was completely dependent. The Congress at the state level had also been running a campaign against the chief minister for ‘corruption’ which is the dominant issue now. The anecdote could be viewed as having some elements of comparison with Rahul Gandhi - Omar Abdullah’s perceived lifeline - seen as having suffered a personal loss of stature like his grandmother then. Given the Congress culture, it would be seen as impossible still that there should be any movement in the state that does not have the approval of Gandhis. But the reports of a realignment of forces within the state Congress could indicate that at least some party members could be entertaining the idea of creating a situation in which the enfeebled ‘high command’ could not resist their ‘rebellion’. The first target of this new strategy seems to be Prof Saifuddin Soz who has been heading the state unit for many years as a Gandhi protégé. According to reliable reports knives are out for Soz. Leading the charge reportedly is Taj Mohi-ud-Din who seems to have deserted the PCC chief and gone over to the camp led by Azad group. Given Taj’s open claim of being close to Gandhis and their conscience keeper in the state this seems significant. Observers are attaching significance to the overnight visit of Ghulam Nabi Azad here the other day too who apparently came to witness his favorite tulip garden when the bloom is weeks away. Azad obviously could be the focal point for a possible change in state leadership. Within the party’s state unit there is a problem though of a replacement for Soz. With all leading lights of the party especially its ministers facing serious charges of corruption the likes of Taj and Peerzada (Muhammad Sayeed) are out of reckoning. Some forces are projecting, according to reports the name of former minister Ghulam Ahmed Mir as a possible successor to Soz as he too is claimed to be close to the party ‘high command’. However before doing so Congress will have to grade moral turpitude as a lesser evil than corruption as Mir is still facing prosecution in the infamous sex scandal of 2006. However, some observers feel the Congress discomfiture at national level could be a blessing in disguise for the Omar Abdullah government which has been facing heat on corruption and misgovernance. Omar and Manmohan Singh could be the unintended beneficiaries of Rahul Gandhi debacle even though the J&K chief minister was always believed to be surviving on the Rahul’s support through his worst times. Strange are the ways of politics as Congress high command busy in building fences around Rahul might not have time or inclination now to disturb status quo in J&K where problems for it are under control - either in party or in the government.