Rahul backs Omar, NC rules out his exit

Rahul Gandhi says the J&K CM needed time & support as he was doing a tough job.

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi/Kolkata: National Conference today ruled out resignation by beleaguered Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah as he got backing from Congress leader Rahul Gandhi who said he was doing a "tough job" and needed "time and support".

On a day of hectic consultations, the situation in the state came up for discussion at the Congress Core Group meeting here ahead of which NC chief Farooq Abdullah met Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Senior Abdullah`s meetings with Gandhi and Singh came against the backdrop of reports that PDP was making efforts to revive its ties with Congress with which it had run a government in the state for five-and-a-half years till August 2008.

"Omar Abdullah has no intention of stepping down nor is there any such move being made," the NC chief told reporters after his 20-minute meeting with Singh in the national capital. He earlier met Sonia Gandhi at her 10, Janpath residence for nearly 25 minutes, an office bearer of the All India Congress Committee told IANS.

He accused the media of speculating such things, saying it plays "tricks" so that "one fellow should go down and second fellow should come up".

Regarding the demand for withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), Farooq said the "overall security situation in Jammu and Kashmir and around the state" has to be considered for a decision.

"It is not the wish of Farooq Abdullah or anyone else that the situation (in Kashmir) is like this," he said.

Asked about the reports of the Hurriyat leaders` reluctance to meet the all-party team, scheduled to visit Kashmir Monday, Farooq said: "They can take their own decision. What can we say."

He said the all-party team will make its schedule and decide whom to meet.

His statement came hours after Rahul Gandhi, who shares good equation with Omar, came out in support of the Chief Minister.

"The government has supported Omar Abdullah. National Conference is the party in power. He is a youngster. Kashmir is a difficult place. Omar is doing a tough job and he should be given time and support," Gandhi told a press conference in Kolkata when asked whether Omar had failed.

"I think we have to give him support. Kashmir is a sensitive job. We have to give him time and support," Gandhi said when a reporter said questions have been raised over "governance-deficit" in the state.

However, he declined to comment on revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Kashmir or intervene in that state`s affairs.

Asked if the controversial AFSPA should be withdrawn in Kashmir, Gandhi said: "It`s a bit wrong for me to have a position on this without having been there.

"I would defer to the prime minister on issues like AFSPA."

Gandhi said he had no intention of intervening in Kashmir as that was not a "part time job" and he had been assigned the task of rejuvenating the Youth Congress and the National Students Union of India (NSUI).

He said the youths of Jammu of Kashmir needed to be brought into the political system in greater numbers.

The NC welcomed Rahul`s statement, saying the Congress General Secretary has "great acumen to comprehend each and every situation. He has very clearly pointed out that the Chief Minister is handling a difficult situation and that he has the entire support and time to handle" the affairs.

The Core Group meeting, chaired by Sonia Gandhi, took stock of the latest situation in the state and the upcoming visit by an all-party delegation to the state on Monday.

It deliberated on the Congress representatives to be part of the delegation.

-Agencies inputs