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Mukherjee to sort Azad-Mufti spat

By Onkar Singh in New Delhi
March 03, 2007 23:22 IST
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Congress president Sonia Gandhi has appointed senior leader Pranab Mukherjee to sort out the differences between Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Gulam Nabi Azad and former chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.

Mufti is upset with the Congress for not allowing him to continue after his three-year term.

With one year to go before the state assembly elections, Mufti knows it will be suicidal for him to continue the alliance if his party has to survive.

Hence he is looking for opportunities to bring down the Congress government unless he is brought back to the helm of affairs.

PDP president Mehbooba Mufti and Mufti have been demanding for reduction of troops as per the announcement made by Azad on the floor of the house in the Assembly session when he had asked the PDP leaders to surrender their security if they felt that there was improvement in the situation.

Both Mufti and his daughter wrote letters to chief minister offering to give up their security.

Azad went back on his stand and said that the situation was not conducive enough for reduction of troops.

Mukherjee has been entrusted with the task of handling the stand off between the two stalwarts before it gets out of hand, according sources close to external affairs minister.

The feeling is that withdrawal involves a larger issue of reciprocity from Pakistan and depends on the way talks with that country progress.

Mukherjee, however, is not averse to redeployment of troops in the valley but a decision has to be taken by the Union government in this respect.


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Onkar Singh in New Delhi