Coalition At A Crossroads

Coalition At A Crossroads

31 January 2014
Greater Kashmir
Firdous Tak

Jammu: With both Congress and National Conference inflexible with regard to their stands over the controversial issue of the creation of new administrative units, the fate of the ruling coalition in Jammu and Kashmir would be clear only when the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah chairs a crucial Cabinet meeting here on Saturday. Though leaders of both the parties are confident that the alliance would survive, speculations were Friday rife that the ruling National Conference was “on its way out of the Coalition” and “ready to snap its ties with the Congress in case of its failure to push for creation of new administrative units in the Cabinet meeting.” But, according to sources, in case the issue has a smooth sail in the meeting, “there is no reason for the NC to call it a day.” Pertinently, Omar had cancelled a Cabinet meeting last week after the Cabinet Sub-Committee on the issue sought more time to submit its report. The Chief Minister had granted an extension to the panel till January 31 but making it clear that “there would be no further extension to it.” The General Administration Department has already circulated the agenda of the Saturday’s Cabinet meeting. The reported meetings of National Conference patron and Union Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah with some top leaders of proposed Third Front in New Delhi and DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi added to the above speculations in the political circles in the State. Dr Abdullah, however, downplayed his meeting claiming that he was like Karunanidhi’s son. 'I am like his son and so didn't discuss politics,' he said, when queried whether any discussion on politics took place during his meeting. NC leaders in the State said they are “unaware about any developments in New Delhi.” However, they said, they are confident that the party would remain with the Congress and “all issues would be resolved amicably.” Senior NC leader and Finance Minister AR Rather said there was nothing “uncommon about Dr Abdullah meeting Karunanidhi and other leaders.” He said Farooq Abdullah is a union minister and as such can meet and call anybody. “These are all speculations and ‘Kite Flying’. No such discussion has taken place at the party forum over pulling out of the UPA,” he told Greater Kashmir, adding, “We are comfortable with the UPA.” Panchayati Raj Minister, Ali Muhammad Sagar clearly ruled out the speculations of NC parting its ways with the Congress. “There was some confusion regarding the creation of administrative units which has now been sorted out,” Sagar said, adding, “Let us hope for the best in tomorrow’s meeting.” “The Chief Minister has already made it clear that National Conference is comfortable with the UPA. That sums it all,” he said. Congress leaders in the State have, however, kept their fingers crossed and are “waiting for the outcome of the Cabinet meeting.” Deputy Chief Minister, Tara Chand, who also heads the eight-member CSC, said, “There is no danger to the coalition government and we are going to table the report of the CSC in the Cabinet meeting tomorrow.” He said the committee received around 3000 representations from all 20 districts of the State and finalized the creation of 2000 plus units “as per need of the areas.” Minister for Medical Education and senior Congress leader, Taj Mohi-ud-Din, said, “I am not aware of CM’s comments on coalition and Farooq’s meeting with DMK chief M Karunanidhi, but one thing is sure that the state government is not in danger.” “If they (NC leaders) resort to these pressure tactics to corner Congress, they are never going to succeed,” he said. He, however, was quick to add that “everything will be decided after tomorrow’s cabinet meeting.” Meanwhile, sources revealed that the CSC members met here this evening at the State Guest House. The closed-door meeting continued for about five hours before the members left for dinner. “We have prepared the report. The draft is ready,” a CSC member said this evening. He said the report will be presented to the Chief Minister ahead of the cabinet meeting.