Monday, June 9, 2008

Gulam Nabi Azad/Power & Politics/Mail Today-June 09,2008

After its rout in Karnataka, the considerably weakened Congress is finding it difficult dealing with the demands of its allies and there is no more difficult customer than Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, the former chief minister of Jammu &Kashmir, who made way for the Congress’ Gulam Nabi Azad under the power sharing agreement. It is no secret that the Mufti and his daughter Mehbooba don’t see eye to eye with Azad and they are now said to be putting pressure on the Congress High Command to move Azad out of Srinagar, perhaps back to Akbar Road where he will return as general secretary “to strengthen the organisation”. The central issue, once again is politics, and not the security of the region. The Mufti wants paramilitary forces, vital for security, withdrawn from the Valley while Azad will have none of it. Azad is opposed to replacing a“uniformed” governor with acivilian, which the Mufti wants. In recent years, only retired police officers or Army generals were dispatched to Srinagar, keeping in mind the security angle. Gen SK Sinha, the incumbent governor is due to retire soon and the Mufti wants both the governor and the chief minister moved and replaced with people better disposed towards him. Local Congress leaders are aghast and rightly so. Mufti’s demands, if conceded, will work in favour of the BJP which will once again wield the stick accusing the Congress of being soft on terror.

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