Raking up a controversy which has potential of dividing Jammu and Kashmir on religious and regional lines ahead of the Assembly elections, a senior Congress minister in Omar Abdullah’s coalition government Wednesday asked why there cannot be a Hindu chief minister in the state.
“Where in the Constitution it has been written that a Hindu from Jammu cannot become chief minister of the state?’’ Minister for Public Health Engineering Sham Lal Sharma asked while addressing Congress youth workers at a rally in Akhnoor, organised on the occasion of birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
Raising the Hindu card in the Muslim majority state of Jammu and Kashmir, he asked why a Hindu cannot become chief minister here “when A R Antulay can become chief minister of Maharashtra which has only 2 per cent Muslim population”.
He even referred to former president A P J Abdul Kalam and former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh to assert his point. “If we can have A P J Abdul Kalam as President of India from among our 12 per cent Muslim brethren, or if we can keep Sardar Sahab (Manmohan Singh) with only two per cent Sikh population as our Prime Minister for 10 years… why we cannot have a Hindu chief minister in the state?’’ “Have you ever given a thought to it?” Sharma asked, regretting that “What can be done as you people (Hindus) will never raise your voice against their dominance”.
“What can be done if you keep on following them like lambs,” he said in an apparent reference to Muslim leaders from Valley. He also went on to cite more instances of discrimination against Jammu region. “The list of agricultural technocrats is released across the state, but those hailing from there (Valley) get the appointment letters, while youth from Jammu continue to move here and there for jobs,” he said.
Sharma further asked “whether they have ever thought as to how many employees had been working in the civil secretariat and how many of them were Hindus. “Of the 7,000 employees working there, hardly 200 were Hindus,” he quickly said.
At Tri Nagar, Smriti Irani centered her speech around Modi, with over 10 references in 11-minute extempore.