Manmohan promises more funds, schemes for J&K

The bonhomie between the National Conference and the Congress was on show at the inaugural function of the Banihal railway station and the Pir Panjal Tunnel on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah shared the dais in the first show of strength after the six-month winter lull in the State. Supporters of both parties were present in good numbers.

Dr. Singh underlined the development that the UPA had ushered in, in cooperation with the National Conference. He promised more funds, schemes and early completion of the Jammu-Srinagar-Baramullah rail link.

This was the first visit to the State by the Prime Minister and Ms. Gandhi after the hanging of Afzal Guru, convicted in the Parliament attack case. Mr. Abdullah said that despite differences on some political issues, the NC’s relations with the Congress were strong. He hailed the efforts of Dr. Singh and Ms. Gandhi in making the rail tunnel project a reality.

Ms. Gandhi said the NC-Congress government under Mr. Abdullah had brought about big changes through several programmes and the recent panchayat elections were an indication that the people had abjured violence and wanted peace and tranquillity. These had given rise to new hopes, she said.