Congress president and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Saturday said Jammu and Kashmir would become a progressive State, while her party was leading the government at the Centre.
After inaugurating a cultural centre for Gujjars in Jammu, Ms. Gandhi told a gathering that the UPA government was committed to helping Jammu and Kashmir. “The State should adopt the latest scientific methods and use computers to advance in the path of education and progress,” she said.
She hailed the contribution of Gujjars in fighting militancy in the border State and in securing the frontiers of the country, and promised the UPA government's help for the community's economic, political and educational empowerment.
“The sacrifice of this [Gujjar] community for the independence of our country has no match. In all wars which India fought with its neighbours, the Gujjars were in the forefront and fought bravely. Be it protecting our borders from enemy aggression or fighting militancy, these men have [made] a huge contribution.”
It was her first visit to Jammu after the UPA government began its second tenure a year ago.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said the government would re-open all the mobile schools, remaining closed for the past 20 years, to ensure education for all Gujjars. He asked the community to arm its children with education and knowledge, so that they could fight their economic, social and political backwardness.
Union Ministers Farooq Abdullah and Ghulam Nabi Azad and PCC chief Saifuddin Soz spoke.
Before leaving for Delhi, Ms. Gandhi met Mr. Omar Abdullah and discussed the functioning of the coalition government. Sources said bickerings between the two factions of the State Congress — headed by Prof. Soz and Mr. Azad — were pulling the Congress Ministers in different directions, thus adversely affecting their functioning.
Sources said that Mr. Abdullah gave her an account of the functioning of the 16-month-old coalition government. He stressed that things were smooth, but certain wrinkles needed to be ironed out.
Ms. Gandhi held a meeting with senior party functionaries over lunch. She cancelled her Srinagar visit owing to infighting in the party.