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Foot in the mouth

Faisul Yaseen

The foot-in-the-mouth-syndrome of Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad may cost Congress dear in the Assembly elections scheduled next year. His recent statement on the birth anniversary of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who earned India freedom from the British rule, that Islam is good only for hereafter while Gandhian philosophy of non-violence was apt for success in the world could have jeopardised the Congress plans for the forthcoming elections. In a Muslim dominated Kashmir, Azad's statement could have been the last nail in the Congress' coffin but for the lenient approach of the Kashmir Ulemas, who maintained silence over the issue and a large section of local media that played down Azad's blasphemous statement.

Earlier, by stripping Qazi Mohammad Afzal of the forest portfolio and Azad's subsequent statement that he had full faith in him the chief minister made a right-royal Charlie out of himself. If he believed that Afzal was not corrupt then why was he stripped off the ministry.

During the last assembly session in Jammu, the winter capital of the state, Azad had also claimed that he would write to New Delhi to withdraw troops from the state within a day if people who called for demilitarisation or troop withdrawal surrender their personal security. Azad had to face humiliation when the coalition ally Peoples Democratic Party leader Mufti Mohammad Sayeed wrote to him offering to surrender his security and take up the troop withdrawal matter with New Delhi. The chief minister hasn't spoken over the issue since then.

The Congress high command's decision of sending Azad to Jammu and Kashmir seems to be a blunder, which could boomerang for them in the forthcoming elections. Azad seems to be the wrong person in the wrong place at the wrong time and his consistent stand against the popular demands of self-rule, demilitarisation and revocation of draconian laws like Armed Forces Special Powers Act and Disturbed Area Act could become detrimental for the Congress. Azad started his innings in the office as chief minister with an outsider's approach by increasing work hours in the government offices by two hours without considering the local weather and the circumstances. In the first winter as CM he launched a drive to confiscate electric heaters and boilers from Srinagar homes - a move he later denied to have ordered after the public backlash.

Farooq was a media darling, Mufti astute politician, Azad appears to be a joker, thanks to his foot in the mouth syndrome.

(The writer can be mailed faisul@kashmirnewz.com)

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