Taj Land Mess Triggers Congress Infighting

KL Report
Srinagar

Congress Minister Taj Mohiuddin on Wednesday asked ruling coalition to bring in no-confidence motion against Legislative Council chairman Amrit Malhotra. The demand came within a day after Malhotra dissolved a penal that was mandated to look into the allegations of forest land grabbing against the minister considered very close to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.

“He (Amrit Malhotra) poses danger to the party (Congress) and to the coalition government,” Taj was quoted saying in Jammu. “I am requesting the Congress as well as the National Conference to bring in a no-confidence against him.” Taj said he lacks any trust or faith in Council Chairman.

Taj said he is seeking strict action against Malhotra for setting up a house penal against him in a forest land grab allegation. He termed the penal “unconstitutional”. Malhotra, Taj was quoted saying was behaving “like a monkey” and empowering him was “like giving the monkey a razor”. The minister reiterated that the piece of land in Sedow village of Shopian near the Ahrabal picnic spot was in not a forest land but state land. “I am in possession of it for the last 30 years and have (already) applied for its transfer under the Roshni Act.”

The penal was set up by Malhotra after Panthers Party lawmaker Rafiq Ahmad Shah raked up the issue. The five member penal was headed by PDP lawmaker Murtaza Khan. Besides the accuser Shah, it had two NC members and a Congressman as members. NC members resigned and Congress lawmaker followed their suit creating a situation in which Malhotra disbanded the penal saying it has become useless. NC said they were not taken into confidence at the level of constitution or its dissolution.

Malhotra has stated, more than once, that the penal was set up within the law and lacked any personal or a malafide interest. He has sated that he was within his rights and within the limitations of law to set up the penal. Malhotra has said the minister was within his rights to move a no confidence.

Insiders said the issue has revived the factionalism within the Congress. Again, it is back to Prof Saif ud Din Soz versus Ghulam Nabi Azad. Party sources said though Taj has remained equidistant from the two factions, the situation was created to make him fall in line and be closer to one or the other faction. Currently, Taj is making efforts to draw solace from the Azad group, sources said. Till recently, he was target of both the factions because of his closeness to the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. They were terming him “the third Congress faction” which NC was “operating directly.”

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