From Gopal Sachar
The constitution of a new ministry in Jammu and Kashmir has generated more heat than light.
The 13-member ministry headed by Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad has only three ministers from the Jammu region including one cabinet and two ministers of state. This has apparently given the feeling that Shri Azad is under pressure and intends to appease the politicians of Kashmir and, hence, he has included seven ministers from the Valley so as to remove the impression that he would give preference to Jammu because he was appointed by the Congress high command as Chief Minister on the forceful demand of the Congressmen from Jammu area.
This has obviously resulted in disappointment in Jammu and now attempts are being made to pacify the Jammu leaders with the promise that in the expansion Jammu would get a bigger share than Kashmir.
Many in the Congress itself are shocked that Shri Mangat Ram Sharma who was deputy chief minister in the coalition government has been demoted to the rank of a minister, holding third position unlike in the previous ministry. Not only this the important portfolio of Industry has been taken from him and he has been left with just Transport and Flouriculture, etc. On the contrary almost all the major portfolios which were under the control of PDP, were not only retained by the ministers from Kashmir but the PDP has also been given an additional portfolio of Tourism.
Interestingly, senior Congress leaders including Peerzada Mohmmad Sayeed who is also the president of PCC has been deprived of the earlier portfolio of Rural Development including Panchayat, he has been allotted the department of Haj and Auqaf as also that of Sports. Another Kashmir leader, Shri Taj Mohi-ud-Din who was earlier holding the portfolio of Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution, has now been entrusted the task of looking after Animal Husbandry.
But more than this about 25 MLA'swho have been left out from the ministry have been voluble in their protest.
Sensing the depth of the anger the former chief minister Dr Farooq Abdullah has predicted that mid-term polls are round the corner and has asked his party men to gear up for the Assembly elections.
Many Opposition leaders have assailed the new ministry alleging that many of the former ministers who were involved in malpractices and amassing wealth through corrupt means, have also been inducted in the new ministry but the Chief Minister Shri Azad still talks about eradication of corruption at high places so as to given a clean and corruption free administration.
Significantly, Shri Azad is silent on policy statements on issues like appointment of delimitation commission to give equal representation to Jammu in the Assembly, implementing the recommendations of the Wazir Commission to create three new districts in Jammu, creation of regional development boards, etc. which were the main planks of the Congress removing regional imbalances and give justice to Jammu. Now Shri Azad is talking only in term of development of all the three regions and also removing disparities within the regions.