The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Congress calms restless J&K allies

New Delhi, July 15: The Congress today promised its coalition government would talk to all sections of people in Jammu and Kashmir to restore normality.

“We will talk to all sections of the people of Jammu and Kashmir though it is difficult for us to set a deadline for our talks,” a senior Congress leader said.

His assurance follows a growing restlessness among the smaller allies of the People’s Democratic Party-Congress government over its style of functioning. Panther’s Party chief Bhim Singh was the first to criticise the lack of consultations among allies.

Yesterday, state CPM leader Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami, who heads the People’s Democratic Forum in the Assembly, said the coalition’s coordination committee might as well be dissolved as it did not meet often enough.

“We understand their (allies’) sentiments because the coordination committee has not met since March. But it is not as if we do not want it to meet. The Congress is committed to strengthening the coalition and it’s working in accordance with the agreed common minimum programme,” the Congress leader said.

Part of the reason was coordination committee chief Ghulam Nabi Azad’s preoccupation with organising the Congress chief ministers’ conclave in Srinagar last month and other party work. Azad, who is also the state Congress chief, is away on a foreign tour. He is expected back next week. The panel’s next meeting — the fourth since its creation in December — will be considered soon after his return, the party leader said.

The Mufti Mohammad Sayeed government, he said, was trying to restore normality by focusing on reviving dormant democratic institutions at all levels of administration and providing them funds for development. “Misguided elements” could not be expected to return to the political mainstream without such a process, the leader said.

Mufti and daughter Mehbooba, who heads the PDP, yesterday met Congress chief Sonia Gandhi to discuss the “current political situation” and ways to strengthen the coalition government. Mufti today met senior Congress leader Manmohan Singh.

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