Congress leader Ishfaq Jabar Sheikh’s decision to join National Conference (NC) has triggered a sort of political storm in Congress camp as the party feels orphaned in Ganderbal Assembly constituency, the stronghold of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.
While state Congress chief Prof Saif-ud-Din Soz downplayed the issue, Tourism Minster G A Mir termed the development as a setback for his party. Opposition People Democratic Party (PDP) however distanced themselves from the development saying they never approached Ishfaq to join them.
“Let Ishfaq join NC first only then I can comment. Let us wait and watch one should not jump to conclusions. This is a premature to comment on the issue,” Soz told KNS.
Senior Congress leader and Minster for Tourism Ghulam Ahmad Mir told KNS that if a potential worker like Ishfaq leaves it is definitely a setback for the party. “But I hope he will not join NC as they already have been trying to convince him,” he said.
“It will be unfortunate on his part if he joins NC as he had gained popularity among the party leadership in New Delhi. It NC may benefit him this time as they are heading the present government but he should remember that changes do take place in politics,” he added.
However, Mir was quick to add that only Ishfaq is not the person on whose shoulders the party is raised ‘there are other strong worker’s who we can trust.’
When enquired about the development Ishfaq told KNS that he has not joined the NC yet ‘but he is in touch with his workers on the decision.’
Meanwhile, NC senior leader and Member Parliament Dr Mehboob Baig told KNS that if Ishfaq will join the party he is welcomed and his joining will prove beneficial for NC
Sources said PDP had reportedly tried to persuade Ishfaq to join its ranks, but these efforts failed to make any headway. However, PDP Chief Spokesperson Nayeem Akhtar said they never approached him to join party.
Pertinently, Ishfaq is the son-in-law of senior NC leader Muhammad Sayeed Akhoon, who had successfully contested 2002 assembly polls from Hazratbal constituency. According to sources he had strong contacts with Congress big-wigs in New Delhi and with Soz.
NC leadership, according to sources, had been keen to rope-in Ishfaq into the party fold sensing tough competition in 2014 given PDP’s strong efforts to get back the seat through Qazi Muhammad Afzal, the former Forest Minister.