Congress putting together poll strategy for Jammu and Kashmir

September 27th, 2008 - 5:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Jammu, Sep 27 (IANS) Aiming to push back the memories of the fall of its government in July, the Congress party in Jammu and Kashmir is putting together its strategy for the elections due in November and plans to stress on its development work when it was in power.Party leaders have started meeting workers to devise strategies for the elections.

Union Water Resources Minister and Congress state unit president Saifuddin Soz and All India Congress Committee General Secretary Prithvi Raj Chavan, in charge of Jammu and Kashmir, have asked party leaders and workers to “face the people on the strength of the work we have done”.

“This is our message to our people here. We are on a strong footing and our record development that took place during the Congress rule in the state is our biggest strength,” Chavan told newsmen on the sidelines of a two-day-convention of the party leaders Saturday.

The Congress, which came to power in the state after 30 years (its last government was in 1975 when it handed over power to Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah as per the Indira Gandhi-Sheikh accord) in 2005, had to face an ignominious exit after chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad failed to face a vote of confidence in the 87-member legislative assembly July 7 and resigned.

He was asked to seek a trust vote after major ruling alliance partner People’s Democratic Party (PDP) withdrew support to the government over the Amarnath land row.

The PDP was protesting against the Azad government’s delay in rescinding a land allotment of less than 40 hectares to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board, a trust that manages a shrine of Hindu Lord Shiva in south Kashmir. However, the order was cancelled July 1, three days after the PDP walked out of the government.

The cancellation of the land order ignited an over two-month-long agitation in July and August. The government signed an agreement Aug 31 on restoring the land to the shrine board for the two-month pilgrimage period.

The Congress’ role in the entire episode has damaged it politically both in the Kashmir valley and Jammu region. The damage was more in Jammu region, where it had 16 out of 21 seats in the house of 87.

“That is a forgotten chapter. We are here to take care of the grievances of all the regions. The Congress will be in the forefront to do so, as we have a presence in all the three regions - Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir,” Soz said.

The Congress, he claimed, can keep the state together.

“Our cadres are ready to face any challenge,” he said.

This was a second meeting of the party leaders in Jammu and Kashmir. A similar convention was held in Srinagar last week to deliberate on the strategies to reach out to the people.

The party is counting on the infrastructure development of all the three regions in the state.

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