Srinagar: Just three weeks ago the ruling coalition of National Conference and Congress was facing a split over failure of a Cabinet Sub-Committee to submit its report on new administrative units in the state ahead of Parliamentary and Assembly elections. To prevent any political upheavals and to keep the coalition boat afloat, the CSC submitted its report in eight months of its creation. However, consensus continues to elude coalition members who are the part of a separate CSC constituted way back in October 2010 to examine recommendations by Justice (retired) Saghir Ahmed Working Group on Centre-State relations.
In fact, the eight-member CSC has exhausted last extension for one year and it silently came to end on February 18 this year.
If sources are to be believed, the panel did not met even once during last sixteen months, and with polls looming, the possibility of even another extension seems very bleak let alone its meeting in near future.
On February 18, 2013, the cabinet headed by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had reconstituted the CSC with Minister for Finance and Ladakh Affairs as its chairman while members included Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Minister for Sports and Youth Services, Minister for Urban Development and Local Bodies, Minister for PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control, Minister for CAPD and Transport, Minister for Planning & Development, Labour and Employment and Minister for Housing, Horticulture and Culture.
On August 16 last year, the government said the term of CSC shall be one year “from the date of its re-constitution i.e. 18.02.2013.”
Interesting, the CSC, which is essentially aimed at deciding future relationship of Jammu and Kashmir with New Delhi, also failed to hold a single meeting during its seventh extension of six months from November 1, 2012 to April 30, 2013, mainly due to reshuffle in the Council of Ministry in which two CSC members from NC—Qamar Ali Akhoon and Surjit Singh Slathia—were dropped.
From April 30, 2013 to August 15, the panel remained without extension even as it had been assured that its term would be extended. It was formally done on August 16 last year.
Justice Saghir-led Working Group was among the five groups announced by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2006 to address the dimensions of Centre-State relations in context of Jammu and Kashmir. Justice Saghir submitted report to the government on December 18, 2009, reportedly recommending restoration of autonomy to the state.
Members of the CSC are on record to admit “difference of opinion” regarding the recommendation on autonomy. It is learnt that there are 32 points in the Saghir Committee recommendations and coalition partners have failed to come up with anything substantial.
The state government constituted the CSC vide Cabinet decision Order (no. 1148-GAD of 2010) on October 11, 2010. Initially it was asked to submit report for three months but has since got as many as eight extensions.