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Congress, NC mend relations

Smita Gupta &
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Not opposed to new administrative units in J&K, says Congress

Union Ministers Praful Patel and Farooq Abdullah at the signing of an MoU in New Delhi on Wednesday for setting up a joint venturecompany.— Photo: PTI
Union Ministers Praful Patel and Farooq Abdullah at the signing of an MoU in New Delhi on Wednesday for setting up a joint venturecompany.— Photo: PTI

The Congress and the National Conference are close to resolving their troubles after the former made it clear on Wednesday that it was not opposed to creation of new administrative units in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Congress only wishes that the units “reflect the aspirations of the people,” sources in the party said.

A report, prepared by the Cabinet Sub-Committee, headed by Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand Sharma of the Congress, is ready and will be presented to the Cabinet on January 31, deadline set by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.

Congress general secretary Ambika Soni told The Hindu : “We aren’t against administrative units as is being made out. I want to reiterate that it was a Congress Chief Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad, who first proposed the idea. The Deputy Chief Minister, after extensive travel, has prepared a report that will reflect the aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.”

Ms. Soni’s assurances came after a meeting two days ago with Mr. Abdullah, who walked out of the Cabinet Sub-Committee meeting held on January 24 after Congress members told him that the report was not yet ready.

On Monday, Ms. Soni, Mr. Azad and PCC chief Saifuddin Soz met Mr. Abdullah here to sort out the issue.

This was followed on Tuesday by a meeting of the Congress’s national leaders with their State counterparts at which Mr. Sharma was also present.

The differences between the allies surfaced when the NC’s original report, prepared by a committee headed by Mushtaq Ganai, suggested only 900-odd units. The Congress wanted to add another 1,200.

The patch-up came on a day Union Minister for Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah said it was up to voters to decide whether Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi should be the Prime Minister or not, causing discomfort in Congress circles.

Union Minister for Heavy Industries and senior NCP leader Praful Patel also embarrassed the Congress when he replied to a question on Mr. Modi’s role in the Gujarat riots of 2002. “The fact is that we are in an era where we believe that the judicial system is the final recourse to getting justice on any issue or to bring finality to any controversy,” Mr. Patel said, referring apparently to courts giving Mr. Modi a clean chit.

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