Kashmir Congress works at unity to seek portfoliosFebruary 17th, 2012 - 2:35 pm ICT by IANS
Jammu, Feb 17 (IANS) The faction-ridden Congress in Jammu and Kashmir is planning to put up a united face to demand the return of two portfolios from its ally and the National Conference, say party leaders.
The Public Works Department and the School Education portfolios were allocated to Congress ministers when the coalition government took power more than three years ago. But now both are under Chief Minister Omar Abdullah who belongs to the National Conference.
“Time has come to say enough is enough and the party will have to stand united to fight the onslaught of the National Conference. We will not allow ourselves to be taken for granted,” a senior Congress minister told IANS on condition of anonymity.
Congress leader Mohan Prakash is arriving here Saturday from New Delhi to work out a strategy, party sources said.
There would be a meeting of all the Congress legislators and leaders Saturday, especially intended to assert that the party is an equal partner in the government.
And, the sources say, it will also emphasise that the chief minister should immediately return the departments to Congress ministers, either by way of a cabinet reshuffle or allocating them to existing ministers of the Congress.
Congress ministers and leaders are known for perennially fighting with each other and are divided into three camps - supporters of union minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, of senior leader Saifuddin Soz and of Taj mohi-ud-Din, said to be a loyalist of Congress leader Ahmad Patel in New Delhi.
But they now feel their infighting is working to the advantage of the National Conference.
“We have bridged our gaps,” said a senior party legislator who has worked for bringing the factions together.
When the coalition government came to power, it was decided that the Congress would have portfolios like power, public works, school education, tourism, health, medical education, agriculture and horticulture.
“But one by one our portfolios are going to the National Conference and we are left with no option but to wait and watch,” the legislator said.
In 2010, the public works department was taken over by Chief Minister Abdullah following the sacking of Ghulam Mohammad Saroori, whose daughter was alleged to have used an impersonator in a medical entrance test.
Last week, the story was repeated. School Education Minister Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed being divested of his portfolio after a police inquiry, on the orders of Abdullah, found that his son had allegedly used unfair means with the help of officials to pass Class 10 in 2009.
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Tags: cabinet reshuffle, chief minister, coalition government, conference time, congress leader, education portfolios, factions, ghulam nabi azad, infighting, jammu and kashmir, kashmir, legislator, medical education, mohan, party leaders, prakash, school education, soz, three camps, union minister