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Congress likely to keep Pranab Mukherjee out of all-party panel

Congress president Sonia Gandhi is likely to nominate two senior party members to be a part of the all-party delegation to Jammu and Kashmir in lieu of finance minister Pranab Mukherjee.

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Congress president Sonia Gandhi is likely to nominate two senior party members to be a part of the all-party delegation to Jammu and Kashmir in lieu of finance minister Pranab Mukherjee.

Although Mukherjee’s name was mentioned at a meeting of the Congress core committee, it was later felt that as the government’s virtual number two and the prime trouble-shooter, it would be imprudent to spare him from the capital, particularly when another key minister, P Chidambaram, too will be in the delegation.

The 28-party delegation comprising 35 leaders will leave for Srinagar in a special aircraft on Monday. The delegation will spend two days in Srinagar, interact with local political leaders and the people, before returning to New Delhi on Wednesday. The second reason being touted for keeping Mukherjee out is that the entire trip to Srinagar is being handled by the home ministry. The home minister will have to ensure that all groups in the Valley, including the Hurriyat, come forward for a dialogue.

Third, even if Mukherjee goes to Srinagar, he will merely be a Congress representative and cannot lead the delegation unless he is specifically deputed to do so. DNA was the first to report that Chidambaram would lead.

Meanwhile, the principal opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is busy garnering support for itself by reaching out to various national parties. The party’s top leader, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, met Left leaders to suggest measures to defuse the current volatile situation in the state. He also met senior Congress leaders and talked to leaders of other political parties to impress upon them that National Conference had failed to control the situation.  

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