Srinagar, Nov 9: What casts aspersions on the performance of the National Conference-led state government, state Congress chief Prof Saifuddin Soz has said that Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi is not happy with the governance in Jammu and Kashmir. Rahul reportedly expressed his displeasure when he visited the state on October 26, 27.
Talking exclusively with Greater Kashmir, Soz said coalition was a compulsion and many things were going on against the spirit of coalition. He also said the present coalition had an inherent difficulty as National Conference was not in the habit of sharing power.
"I will tell you honestly that even Rahul Gandhi is not happy with governance here and he expressed his disapproval when he visited the state last month. He was not satisfied with what is happening here. Many young entrepreneurs talked to him during the visit and raised the issue of a kind of 'disconnect' between the youth of the state and the government," Soz said when asked how the central leadership views the performance of the state government.
The powerful Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi otherwise is a known Omar Abdullah-supporter and is seen the power behind the Omar's carte-blanche on governance. Rahul called for backing Omar when the latter was in deep trouble last year after the death of more than 100 youth in the summer unrest.
"Coalition is a compulsion and we have to be in coalition but we have fallen short of expectations. There are many things that could have been done better in the governance and action against corruption. There is lot of corruption in the system which has made the life of common man difficult. But this is not to suggest that blame can be passed on to NC only. Governance is a joint responsibility," Soz said.
The state government and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah were recently under fire on the issue of political corruption after the mysterious death of NC worker Syed Muhammad Yousuf and the reported selling of legislature berths in lieu of money in the party.
On AFSPA, the senior leader said, "The law has to go, it is revocable and was brought in as a temporary measure to fight militancy. There were problems and aberrations like Pathribal and Machil etc. but it served as a tool to fight terrorism. Pathribal is a case in point where the CBI is taking a view in the Supreme Court against the Army.
It speaks volumes about democratic governance of India. There is delay sometimes but the system is intact and working. But the law has to go through the process of consultation with every stakeholder, like the Defence and the Home ministries."
On CM's announcement on the issue, he said, "It was rather premature and created discomfort. After all there is a coalition government in place and our views have to be taken into consideration. We should also know what is happening. The issue created a lot of confusion. I never said AFSPA won't go if the CM says so. Now the CM has accepted my principle that Congress has to be consulted with others. I discussed the issue with the central leaders also and they agreed that there has to be consultation on the issue. The CM has accepted that the issue will be discussed in the cabinet and the unified command."
When asked did Omar violate coalition dharma, he said, "I would not say that, but there are so many things going on against the spirit of coalition. This coalition suffers from an inherent difficulty that National Conference has all along enjoyed power all alone. They are not used to sharing power. First they were out of power for six years now it is their first experience of coalition. It is happening with them for the first time. But we shall try to cope up with the reality."
Asked if a Congress CM will take over in January, Soz said, "It is a subject which falls under the purview of Congress party high command. The party workers definitely express their grievances which have been conveyed to the high command. But ultimately it is the party high command that will take a decision."
When asked if Congress decides to lead the government who will be the CM, him or Ghulam Nabi Azad, Soz said, "This question is embarrassing for me. My ambition remains under control. When the Congress leadership decided to take Dr. Farooq Abdullah as a minister in the union cabinet and not me (after Congress-led UPA retained power in 2009 parliamentary elections), I took it sportingly. But the party can put me to any job and I will try my best."
The professor refused to comment on National Conference spokesman Mustafa Kamal. "I do not want to comment on him, our party has reacted to his utterances particularly our colleagues from Jammu."
On the factionalism in Congress, he said, "Only a handful of people create some confusion. Rest you can see that the entire party is with me."
When asked how the central leadership takes the groupism within the party, he said, "India is a big country. They have lot of things to think and worry about. But we don't feel that we are neglected. I want things to settle down and sort out the issue."
On the emergence of 'Omar loyalists' in the state Congress and senior Cabinet minister Taj Mohiuddin ruling out rotational CM, Soz said, "Congressmen feel that he (Taj) is more loyal than the king, let him enjoy that status. But we have to look after the interests of the party. Personally speaking, I have no difficulty on his statements."
Asked to comment on the experience of coalition with PDP from 2002 to 2008, he said, "That coalition worked well for most of the time. Unfortunately relations soured later and the Ghulam Nabi Azad-led government fell prematurely."
Suggesting that Congress has kept its options open vis a vis PDP in the future and the NC-Congress coalition is not an all-weather relation, Soz said, "In politics one can't say with certainty where things will go. But there is no guarantee for any situation. Circumstances will decide."