Kashmir Congress infighting reaches new high (Kashmir Newsletter)

February 3rd, 2012 - 1:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia Gandhi Srinagar, Feb 3 (IANS) A bitter war of attrition between two senior Congress leaders has exposed major chinks in the party’s Jammu and Kashmir unit which continues to remain faction-ridden.

Abdul Gani Vakil, former minister and senior Congress leader from north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, has locked horns with senior party leader and Public Health Engineering Minister, Taj Mohiuddin.

Vakil and Taj have been making statements against each other claiming to be acting on the guidelines of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son, party general secretary Rahul Gandhi.

“I am acting under the guidelines of Soniaji and Rahulji who want to expose corruption at every level, including that within the party. Taj Mohiuddin has been indulging in rampant corruption, bringing in a bad name to the party,” Vakil has been publicly alleging.

Taj maintains that Vakil is on his way out.

“He will soon be expelled from the party for indiscipline,” Taj has told reporters in his reaction to Vakil’s allegations.

Taj even said Vakil had been approaching him for favours which the minister had declined.

The bad news for the faction-ridden party is that internal bickering and mudslinging have now reached another senior party leader and Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand.

Vakil has threatened to approach the state accountability commission to expose what he calls gross instances of nepotism and corruption in the departments headed by Tara Chand.

The state Congress has been faction-ridden ever since Ghulam Nabi Azad, the union health minister, left the state after vacating the chief minister’s post to avoid seeking a vote of confidence in the state assembly in 2008. The party is vertically divided into those who support Azad and those who support Saifuddin Soz, president of the party’s state unit and former union minister.

Senior Congress ministers brook no discretion while stating their loyalties to either Azad or Soz at party meetings.

The bickering within the Congress is also affecting governance by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah who belongs to the National Conference and formed a ruling alliance with the Congress after the 2008 state assembly elections.

It is common knowledge in the state that while Azad supports Omar to the hilt, Soz is less favourably disposed towards the chief minister.

During the last six months when demands of rotating the chief minister’s post were being raised within the Congress party, the orchestration was mainly done by the supporters of Soz.

The Congress national leadership had made it clear while working out the terms of alliance with the National Conference in 2008 that Omar would be chief minister for the complete six-year term of the assembly.

While the party national leadership would not allow the bickering to go beyond a certain point, already the image of the party and the efficiency of its ministers to deliver have taken a serious beating in the state.

All is not well with the Congress in the state and the war of attrition is slowly, but steadily reaching a deafening crescendo.

(Sheikh Qayoom can be contacted at sheikh.abdul@ians.in)

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