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Sonia may pay second visit to Kashmir
Onkar Singh in New Delhi | October 24, 2005 17:37 IST
Last Updated: October 24, 2005 23:38 IST
Congress president Sonia Gandhi is likely to visit Jammu and Kashmir for a second time in three weeks to assess the relief and rehabilitation work that is being carried out in north Kashmir which was devastated by the earthquake on October 8.
The date for the visit has not been finalised but Sonia.
Sonia, who began consultation on transfer of power in the state on Sunday with a meeting with state chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and People's Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti continued holding discussions on Monday as well.
She may take a couple of days before announcing her decision, a senior party leader close to Sonia told newsmen at the Congress headquarters on Monday evening.
Asked if Mufti had asked to continue in office for the time being, the source said that Mufti has expressed his desire to handover power and Sonia wants to have an overall perspective of what the coalition government has achieved, and the challenges ahead in case a new government takes charge.
"I am surprised that some newspapers have mentioned an individual as the party choice while some have talked about alternatives within the Congress. Frankly no names have figured so far.
"Even Gulam Nabi Azad has said anyone could become chief minister. Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has expressed his willingness to handover power," the Congress said on condition of anonymity.
"She wants to hold larger consultations before arriving at a decision. She met senior Congress leaders, which included Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Minister for Human Resource Development Arjun Singh.
"Dr Karan Singh, M L Fotehdar, Gulam Nabi Azad, Saifuddin Soz,Mrs Ambika Soni were present at the meeting. Sonia is likely to continue discussions for a couple of days," said Anand Sharma.
Sharma was caught on the wrong foot when asked if the Congress legislators of the Jammu and Kashmir assembly have been summoned to Delhi for consultations.
"I do not know whether they have been summoned or not. The Congress president wants to hold wider consultations on the matter maybe they too would be consulted," he said.
Ambika Soni, in-charge of Jammu and Kashmir, confirmed that nobody had been asked to come to Delhi.
"The Congress president would meet the state party president Pirzada Sayeed, Deputy Chief Minister Mangat Ram Sharma for their inputs," she confirmed but refused to spell out the nature of discussions that were held by Sonia on Monday or the course of action she may chose to adopt about the transfer of power.
The party vehemently denied that it has taken a decision to allow Mufti to continue and the entire process of holding consultations under the garb of democratic functioning of the party is an eyewash.
Congress ministers and MLAs who arrived in New Delhi on Monday afternoon said the party leadership should not succumb to the pressure exerted by PDP and its supporters and the Congress leadership install its own chief minister in the state on November 2 as per the agreement between PDP and the Congress party.