Jammu: The uninterrupted rains, the resultant fury of rivers, rivulets and nullahs and consequent
floods has devastated very large parts of the state. There is hardly an area in the Kashmir valley
which has not been impacted adversely by the torrential rains during the past couple of days. Of
course, vast swathes of Jammu areas are facing the brunt of the floods too.
It is surprising that in the midst of it all, the rivalry between state Congress chief Saifuddin Soz
and former Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad is alive and kicking. Actually, it may become
sharper as Azad follower Taj Mohiuddin has already taken potshots at Soz camp follower Sham Lal
We have to understand here that the state Congress unit is vertically divided between Soz and Azad
camps. This means that all the ministers from the Congress owe allegiance to either of the leaders.
The ministers often become a cat’s paw for their masters (Soz or Azad) and seek to undermine one
another’s authority. They thereby never leave an opportunity to go by to hit out at one another.
The coalition partner, the National Conference (NC), cannot but relish this prospect of the Congress
workers, and leaders, being divided as it gains strength from that.
Returning to Sham Lal Sharma versus Taj Mohiuddin rivalry and bad blood between them, let us
dwell on what is the basis of their anger at one another. It so happened that towards the end of the
year 2012, the term of Saifuddin Soz as state Congress chief was about to come to an end. The Azad
camp followers thought of it as an opportune moment to undermine Soz by taking away the state
Congress chief’s post from him.
Accordingly, Taj Mohiuddin’s name was floated as a possible candidate to replace Soz at the head
of the Congress party. Taj’s name then started doing rounds (without gaining much ground) in the
political circles and this angered Soz (and company) no end.
Taj was then considered all-powerful and important among all the Congress ministers since he had
the “most lucrative’’ ministry. Later, there was a reshuffle of the ministries and Taj, an Azad protégé
and follower, lost lucrative PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control to Soz acolyte Sham Lal Sharma. This
was meant to be a Soz victory at Taj’s expense.
To rub salt into Taj’s wounds, he was made in charge of only the Medical Education ministry and
Health was given to Shabir Khan, another Azad follower.
Ever since then, the rivalry, and enmity, between Taj and Sham has only got deeper. It is common
knowledge in Civil Secretariat corridors that they do not see an eye to an eye. They run down one
another in their respective rooms in presence of hangers-on and officials who visit them.
There is ill-will among the two, Sham and Taj, also a pathological aversion between them. The first
potshot was taken by Taj by alleging that had Sham not stopped dredging work in Kashmir, things
would have been different, and better.
Ironically, some of Sham’s supporters are not too unhappy with the damage that has accrued to the
Bhagwati Nagar bridge on Tawi. It was constructed during Taj’s tenure and they are saying that Taj
got it made in great hurry as it was an easy link to his farmhouse on the outskirts of the city.
Sham supporters are even saying that the Tawi artificial lake, conceived by Taj, if complete now,
would have devastated the Jammu city. The bad vibes continue.
(To be continued)