Monday, October 22, 2001,Chandigarh, India





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J&K rebels reject new PCC set-up
Tribune News Service

Jammu, October 21
“We have no alternative but to be on the offensive.” This is the common refrain from a majority of Congress leaders in Jammu and Kashmir who have rejected a move to retain the PCC chief, Mohd Shafi Qureshi, by expanding PCC office-bearers and the executive committee to an unprecedented size.

Mr Qureshi announced a new PCC set-up with 14 vice-presidents, 10 general secretaries, 20 secretaries and 39 executive committee members in a bid to appease dissidents who want him to be replaced. The dissidents have questioned the claim of Mr Qureshi that the new set-up had been approved by the AICC president because the list of the office-bearers had been typed on a PCC letter pad and signed by Mr Qureshi himself.

What has enraged a majority of Congress leaders is that he has not included any party MLA — there are six legislators in the Assembly. Also, those candidates who had not forfeited their security during the 1996 Assembly have also been dropped and those who lost their security deposit have been taken in.

A senior dissident leader said: “Some of the office-bearers and executive committee members, who had been inactive for the past several years, have been included in the new list. Mr Raman Bhalla, Mr Yogesh Sawhney, president youth Congress, Mr Garu Ram, Mr Sardari Lal, Mr Prem Sagar and others who had done a lot for the Congress in the state had been dropped.

Surprisingly, those retained or included in the PCC set-up have been critical of the reconstitution on the plea that Mr Qureshi having lost confidence of over 110 out of 160 senior party leaders had no moral authority to finalise the reconstitution of the PCC. They said: “Our only demand is replacement of Mr Qureshi. Even if the 100 names are added to the list we will not drop our demand for his ouster.”

The dissidents have decided to send a petition to Ms Sonia Gandhi for her intervention so that the party did not face “liquidation”.

They seem to be annoyed with her too because, as they put, “More than 102 party leaders had an hour-long session with her in Delhi recently where she was told to replace Mr Qureshi if she was keen to revive the Congress in Jammu and Kashmir.”

They said Mr Qureshi had “packed” the PCC with his “yesmen” even after retaining some of the dissident leaders from Jammu and the valley.

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