|Tuesday, July 11, 2000,
SRINAGAR, July 10 Sharp differences surfaced today at the crucial National Conference working committee meeting here on whether to remain in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) following rejection of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly autonomy resolution by the Union Cabinet.
Highly-placed NC sources said tonight several speakers favoured pulling out of the NDA as the rejection of the resolution was linked to partys political base in the state.
The speakers, according to the sources, contended the Centres response to the resolution and the attack by the BJP, lead partner of the NDA, on NC have made it untenable for the party to continue in the alliance.
However, some senior leaders of the party are understood to have voiced the need for continuing in the NDA as they feel that the state government should work in tandem with the Centre to stamp out militancy from the state.
Sensing the mood in the meeting, Chief Minister and party chief Farooq Abdullah bought time by announcing extension of the working committee deliberations by a day tomorrow to allow all its 31 members to air their views.
So far 10 members have spoken in the meeting.
Earlier, NC General Secretary Sheikh Nazir came out of the meeting as it was on and told reporters in reply to a question his party would not go for a confrontation with the Centre.
The party general secretary said the members had been favouring the partys stand on autonomy on which it had gone to the people during the 1996 elections. There was also no question of taking a confrontationist attitude towards the Centre. Replying a question on the statement made by the Union Law Minister, Mr Ram Jethmalani, the NC General Secretary said options could be discussed at a later stage.
The meeting started at about 6.15 pm, 15 minutes later than the scheduled time, at the residence of Sheikh Nazir Ahmad.
During the first 45 minutes five members, including Ali Mohammad Naik, Lok Sabha MP, Sharifuddin Shariq, Rajya Sabha, MP, Chuni Lal Khajuria and two Ministers of State, Bashir Ahmad Nengroon and Qamar Ali Aakhoon. The minister from Ladakh, Koshak Tokdan Rimpoche was speaking at the time of filing the report.
Those who attended the meeting included all 31 working committee members, including the MPs and legislators. The Union Minister of State for Industries and Commerce, Mr Omar Abdullah, was also present.
The NC President, Dr Farooq Abdullah, reached the venue of the meeting at 6.10 pm, 10 minutes ahead of the schedule.
rift with NC
NEW DELHI, July 10 The BJP today sought to underplay its difference with the National Conference saying that parties can have differences on issues but what keeps them together in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is the National Agenda for Governance.
Talking to mediapersons informally at the party headquarters, the BJP General Secretary, Mr K.N. Govindacharya, said, "There can be differences in their thinking and approach and our thinking" but National Agenda for Governance keeps the constituents of the NDA together. "The NDA is not a merger of parties but a coalition of parties", he pointed out.
The Jammu and Kashmir issue should not be seen only in the context of Centre-state relations or in the light of Sarkaria Commission, Mr Govindacharya said.
Stating that Jammu and Kashmir is a special case, Mr Govindacharya said at least from 1989, there has been a deliberate effort to escalate the proxy war from Pakistan which qualitatively changes the need for fresh thinking on the issue.
The BJP leader tried to explain the popularly perceived differences and contradiction between the BJP and the (RSS) and said the latter was above power and politics. "Their nation building time scale was different than that of the BJP", he said adding that our differences are not on policies but in details.
Asked to comment on former Samata Party
President and Defence Minister George Fernandess
reported statement on attack on Christians and their
reconversion, Mr Govindacharya said he was confident that
if the latter was asked to choose between "Social
unity and freedom of conversions when the two became
antogonist," then he too would "prefer social
unity". "Notwithstanding utterances of church
leaders, the BJP condemns all sorts of violence by any
person or group in the name of religion", he said.
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