The Congress in Jammu & Kashmir has suffered a big jolt by developments within the on going session of the State Legislature as the PCC president and Education Minister, Peerzada Mohd. Sayeed, had to resign from the party-led Cabinet on charge of corruption.
The corruption charge was leveled on the floor of the Assembly by an associate member of the Congress Legislative Party, Shoaib Nabi Lone, who alleged that he had to pay a graft of Rs. 40,000 to a Minister to get a file of his sister cleared. He promised to tell the name of the Minister to the CM on the condition that action would be taken against the guilty Minister.
This provided a God sent opportunity to the vocal opposition, which was already in arms to take upon the working of the coalition of the State.
Interestingly, the member made this amazing allegation when the Chief Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad at a function itself of the State Vigilance Organisation had vowed that notwithstanding it being an election year, his war against corruption would continue till this menace is rooted out.
As the allegation of Shoaib Lone had provided a big handle to the opposition they raised a storm forcing the Chief Minister to get the name of the Minister and take the House into confidence about the action taken in the matter.
Shri Shoaib Lone had also leveled another charge that the murder of his father, Ghulam Nabi Lone, who was then a Minister of State and was gunned down about three years back, was killed because of a political conspiracy; he had sought the probe into the matter by the CBI.
Next day, Shri Shoaib met the Chief Minister in the House itself and gave the name of the Minister who had allegedly taken a bribe.
Obviously, looking perturbed over the developments in the House, the Deputy Chief Minister, who also holds the portfolio of law, announced to concede the demand for CBI probe into the case of killing of the late Ghulam Nabi Lone. Some minutes later, Shri Shoaib Lone again met the Chief Minister in the House and complained about the threatening call to his mother from the person who had taken the bribe.
About two hours later, the CM told the house that a driver had been arrested who had made a phone call to the mother of the MLA Shri Lone.
The same day evening in an interview to a local TV channel Shoaib Lone revealed that the bribe was given to the Education Minister through his driver who has since been arrested.
The Education Minister, Peerzada Mohd. Sayeed pleaded innocence and alleged that this was all a part of a conspiracy to malign him and his party but still he resigned to make room for free and fair probe into the charge.
Next day, the opposition members again questioned the name of the Minister in the House and action taken into the matter.
The Chief Minister told the House that the Education Minister Peerzada Mohd/ Sayeed had submitted his resignation, which has been accepted.
According to reports on the complaint filed by the MLA, the police have registered Shoaib Lone'scase and it has been referred to the Vigilance Organisation for investigation as the matter involves the corruption charge.
Whatever may be the ultimate result of the enquiry being conducted into the graft charge but the Congress has already suffered a lot because there was galore of allegations against different ministers. But this was a great embarrassment for the coalition, more so, the Congress especially when this being an election year. Significantly two of the Ministers of this coalition had earlier become causality in the notorious sex scandal of Srinagar.
But there are about a dozen other sitting and former Ministers who have figured in various reports on charges of abuse of power and the opposition is on their toes to put the coalition into the dock.
As the elections to the State Assembly are drawing near the charges of graft and abuse of power are bound to assume new proportions. It is to be seen how the ruling leaders of faction-ridden Congress and other partners in the coalition handle the situation to face the challenges ahead.
It may be mentioned here that in a survey conducted by Transparency International about two years back, Jammu & Kashmir was put as second most corrupt state of the country.