The Congress’s desire to go it alone in the J&K assembly polls later this year is learnt to have triggered the latest faceoff with ally National Conference, with Chief Minister Omar Abdullah reportedly serving an untimatum to the Congress leadership to come clear on his ambitious plan for creation of more administrative units in the state by Saturday.
While Omar on Wednesday remained silent on his reported plan to resign over this issue, Congress sources said he had not made any such threat during his meetings with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and AICC general secretary in charge of J&K Ambika Soni a few days ago. Omar was learnt to have only impressed upon them the need for the cabinet sub-committee headed by Deputy CM Tara Chand of the Congress to submit its report on the formation of the administrative units immediately.
The Congress leadership had assured him that it was not opposed to his plan. The sub-committee had been constituted after the Congress had expressed reservations on the Mushtaq Ahmed Ganai panel report, saying its proposal for the formation of over 800 more administrative units had regional disparities and was unfair to Ladakh and Jammu regions.
Unsure about Congress’s stance on a pre-poll alliance, Omar, said sources, sought to raise the pitch on this issue, which could draw a positive resonance in the Valley — the NC stronghold that is perceived to be slipping from its grasp.
While the NC wants a pre-poll alliance for both the Lok Sabha and assembly elections, the Congress is not ready to commit itself. In fact, state Congress leaders were learnt to have told the AK Antony panel on pre-poll alliances that the party would be better off going it alone in the state.
Asked about reports on Omar’s plan to resign, Ambika Soni told The Indian Express, “I have not seen any such statement by him. He was here the day before yesterday. He wanted to be assured that the sub-committee submits its report and the Congress gives positive suggestions to it. We assured him that we have no reason not to. In fact, yesterday, I, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Saifuddin Soz had an extended three-hour meeting with the three Congress ministers of the sub-committee and we went into details. They (ministers) have assured us that the report would be submitted as agreed and it is for the cabinet to consider it in totality. ” She denied any rift between the two allies.
While the state cabinet is likely to meet on February 1 to consider the sub-committee report, which is learnt to have recommended creation of 2,100 administrative units, all eyes are now on the NC to see its next move.