Srinagar, Feb 23:
Split is wide open in National Conference (NC) after Central Secretary from
Jammu Rattan Lal Gupta wrote a letter to Chief Electoral Officer (CEO)
expressing willingness to participate in the now-deferred Panchayat polls if
detained leaders are released.
Sources said NC
leaders from Kashmir province are not happy with their Jammu counterparts for
bypassing the leadership and taking decisions without “authorization”. Under
rules, key policy decisions including participating in the elections have to be
authorized by the Working Committee.
Since all the
three top leaders –President Farooq Abdullah, Vice-president Omar Abdullah and
General Secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar – are in jail, nobody has the authority to
take any policy decision unless authorized. Plus additional general secretary
Mustafa Kamal is also under house arrest.
Sources said no
leader from the valley was consulted before the letter was sent to CEO. “We are
not concerned about the contents of the letter. We just want to know whether
the letter was authorized by any of the top leaders or working committee or
core group”, said a top leader.
In his letter,
Gupta had said that NC being “strongly votary of democratic process wishes to
participate, but it is practically impossible for the party in view of the fact
that the top leadership including Farooq, Omar and Sagar are detained under
Public Safety Act”.
“It is not
necessary that I need to consult people before writing a letter. I am the
Central Secretary of the party. I have written the letter. Procedure is that
Central Secretary can write a letter and I wrote to Election Commission. What
is wrong in it? Shall I have to ask the world whether I should write a letter
or not. I am an office bearer and I have
written a letter”, Gupta told The Kashmir Monitor.
General Secretary of the NC Mustafa Kamal, however, tried to play down the
matter saying there is no evidence that the letter was written in the first
“I am under house
arrest. I can’t give you any information whether the letter was sent or not.
Basic thing is that the Working Committee has to decide it. Three main leaders,
president, vice president and general secretary, are under detention. Other
aspect is that they might have given recommendation for which party
headquarters will respond. How can I respond sitting in the house?” he asked.
Senior NC leader
and MP from Anantnag Justice (retd) Hasnain Masoodi said he can’t comment since
he does not know anything about it. “I can’t comment. Please appreciate that I
am not the author of the letter”, he said.