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JK: Azad reaches out to people

By M I Jehangir in Kamlakote
October 23, 2005 20:17 IST
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The transfer of power from People's Democratic Party to Congress in Jammu and Kashmir has been delayed due to a devastating earthquake but Union Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, who is tipped to be the next chief minister, is making the time count, reaching out to the people.

Azad, who was deputed to the state by the Union cabinet immediately after the 7.4 magnitude temblor struck the state on October 8, has been camping in Kamlakote to oversee rescue, relief and rehabilitation in quake-ravaged areas.
He has been to the remotest of villages in Uri and Tanghdhar areas, flattened by the earthquake, as he tries to project his image as people's chief minister who stood by them
in the hour of crisis.
Azad chose to stop at every village in Uri and Tangdhar sectors and listened to the worries and needs of the people.
He has been criticised in the past from within the Congress and outside for ignoring his home state politics while making a career at the national level.

He might not have heard of villages like Kamalkote, Sultandaki, Sarai Bandi, Basgirah, Chambkoot, Dildar and Chiterkoot before devastation struck these areas but the Union minister, during his visit to these areas, mingled with the people and promised them he would be back for another visit.

Azad might have been initially reluctant, as sources close to him maintain, to return to state politics as chief minister to replace Mufti Mohammad Sayeed but he has given up the idea of staying in the Union cabinet and decided to concentrate his energies on his upcoming tenure.

He was instrumental in getting the Centre to announce a cash relief of Rs 1 lakh for the next of kin of the persons killed in the quake.

Azad also persuaded the Centre to sanction Rs 1 lakh to persons whose houses were rendered not fit for living after the quake, irrespective of the extent of damage to the structure.

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M I Jehangir in Kamlakote
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