Saghir panel report stuck in NC-Cong discord

ABID BASHIR

Srinagar, Oct 24: Partners in the ruling coalition, National Conference and Congress, continue to remain at loggerheads over the crucial report of Justice Saghir Ahmed-led Working Group on Center-State relations. There is also no forward movement on the interim report submitted four months ago by a Cabinet Sub-Committee (CSC) on the matter.
The reason for no consensus on the report is obvious as the NC strongly believes that Justice Saghir had advocated autonomy for the State while Congress makes 1975 Indira-Abdullah accord as the base for any debate, saying that all major issues were already settled between the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah. Congress also claims that Saghir report had no mention about autonomy.
Minister for Law and Panchayati Raj, Ali Muhammad Sagar said, “The CSC interim report doesn’t include the discussion on autonomy as there was no consensus over the issue.” Sagar, who is a member of the CSC, said the NC has a firm belief that autonomy is the best possible solution to the vexed Kashmir issue. “Saghir Committee report has advocated autonomy for the State. I believe the issue will be taken up in the next round of meetings to be held in Jammu,” he said.
The CSC discussing the Saghir report is headed by Finance Minister Abdur Rahim Rather and comprises eight ministers, four from the NC and four from Congress. It submitted the interim report on June 15, 2012, with a decision to reserve the discussion on autonomy for future meetings. “Consensus was evolved on many important things, except autonomy,” Sagar said.
The CSC submitted the interim report to Chief Secretary Madhav Lal, who was supposed to table it before the Cabinet. “But there is no forward movement on the issue over the past four months,” sources said.
Senior Congress leader and Minister for PHE and Irrigation, Taj Mohiudin said, “The 1975 Indira-Abdullah pact has to be the base for any discussion, be it autonomy or anything else. In the interim report, we haven’t talked about autonomy. We have discussed small things in the interim report.” Asked why the delay in discussing the interim report in the Cabinet, the Minister evaded the question.
It took CSC two years to frame the interim report owing to the serious ideological differences the ruling dispensation has. “The CSC has discussed devolution of powers, socio-economic development, Article 370 and other issues,” a source said.
The CSC on Justice Saghir report had been given six extensions since it was formed in 2010. Justice Saghir had presented the report to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on December 23, 2009. The Justice Saghir-led Working Group was the 5th Working Group constituted by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to address various dimensions of Center-State relations.
Now it remains to be seen whether the Cabinet would approve the interim report as and when it is presented before it. “If Cabinet approves the report, it becomes binding on Government of India to react,” a senior NC minister said, wishing anonymity.

Lastupdate on : Wed, 24 Oct 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 24 Oct 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 25 Oct 2012 00:00:00 IST




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