Foundation laid for Rs. 2,700-crore Z-Morh tunnel

The Congress and the National Conference on Thursday displayed warmth to sustain their relations through the six wintry months when all political activity comes to a standstill in the Kashmir Valley.

The two parties used the foundation ceremony for the Z-Morh tunnel, as the last pre-winter major political platform to warm up to each other, reaffirm their coalition and resolve to carry their legacy not only as two political entities but also as the first families in the State and at the national level.

Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways C.P. Joshi, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and Union Minister for Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah were present.

Mr. Gandhi, on a three-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir, breezed through Leh, Kargil and Sonamarg. He will attend a function in Srinagar on Friday.

Rahul-Omar axis

The senior Abdullah drew a Rahul-Omar axis for the future of the country on the one hand and the State, on the other, deriving from the relationship between his late father Sheikh Abdullah and the former Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.

“The day is not far when Rahul will be the Prime Minister,” he said exhorting him to be courageous as his mother Sonia Gandhi in facing challenges and taking the country ahead.

At the same time, he hoped that both Mr. Gandhi and the Chief Minister would work together and that the latter should not get unnerved by the problems the State faced.

The Chief Minister recalled the accords that Indira Gandhi and Sheikh Abdullah and Rajiv Gandhi and Farooq Abdullah signed for the development of the State. He hoped the UPA would speed up funding for development, containing militancy and talking with Pakistan for a political solution.

“We are Kashmiris”

In response, Mr. Gandhi referred to his family’s connection with the Abdullahs. “My family too comes from Kashmir. We are Kashmiris.” He added that he would continue the generational relation with the first family of Jammu and Kashmir.

He said one of his objectives was to connect with the people and understand their difficulties and sorrows.

His other objective would be to ensure that the people of the Valley got the same educational and health benefits as others in other parts of the country.