In a clear sign of growing differences between the ruling PDP and BJP in Jammu and Kashmir, Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh Tuesday boycotted a high-level meeting convened by Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. The meeting was called to review the stock and supply position of essential commodities, besides preparedness of the official machinery to deal with any contingency during heavy snowfall in Kashmir and Ladakh.
According to official sources, despite being informed well in advance, Singh skipped the meet to protest against the finance department’s alleged discriminatory treatment to Jammu region in matters of development.
Apart from the Chief Minister, nearly half-a-dozen ministers belonging to PDP were present at the meeting that was attended by deputy commissioners from all districts of the Valley and the Ladakh region.
While Singh refused to say anything, officials attributed his absence to non-availability of flights between Jammu and Srinagar due to bad weather.
Sources, however, said lately, tension had been rising between PDP and BJP over the functioning of state’s finance ministry, headed by Dr Haseeb Drabu. They referred to some recent flashpoints, including imposition of service tax on helicopter sorties between Katra-Sanjichat for Vaishno Devi pilgrims, on going macadamisation of roads and setting up of power supply infrastructure.
However, the immediate provocation was reportedly the release of nearly Rs 10 crore by the finance department directly to workshops engaged in repair of damaged transformers in the state while ignoring the power development department (PDD) headed by the Deputy CM.
According to set practice, these funds were allocated to the PDD that in turn paid the respective workshops.