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Tight security in Srinagar for Congress chief ministers conclave
May 29, 2003 16:48 IST
Security has been tightened for the Congress chief ministers' conclave beginning in Srinagar on Friday.
The conclave is expected to discuss the party's strategy for the coming assembly election in four states (Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and New Delhi) as well as the Parliamentary polls in 2004.
Broadway hotel, where the chief ministers from 15 party-ruled states would be lodged during the two-day conference, has been put off limits to general public in view of security concerns.
The conclave, earlier scheduled to be held at the hotel, was shifted to Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Centre in the high security zone, along the Dal Lake.
Congress sources said Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee chief Ghulam Nabi Azad and All India Congress Committee general secretary Ambika Soni reviewed the arrangements for the conclave during a meeting on Thursday morning.
Senior party leaders from the state's coalition government also attended the meeting, they said.
The visiting chief ministers and senior party leaders from New Delhi are expected to arrive in the valley later in the day, prompting last minute dress rehearsals by security and intelligence agencies.
The Congress has said selection of Kashmir as the venue for the high profile conclave was an expression of solidarity with the people of the state.
The move is also a shot in the arm for Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed's efforts to promote tourism in the state. The state government hopes that the occasion will serve to convey that it continues to be the most admired destination.
Sayeed and his collegues in the coalition ministry are expected to lobby hard with the visiting dignitaries to invest in the various industries in the state including tourism, which has suffered due to decades of militancy.
The conclave and party president Sonia Gandhi's rally at Baramulla, which 100,000 people are expected to attend, come close on the heels of successful visit of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to the valley.
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