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Sonia rejected resignation letter, says Kashmir minister

But divested of Education Portfolio by Chief Minister Omar

Saturday February 11, 2012 06:12:16 PM, IANS

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Jammu/Srinagar: Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed, who sent his resignation from the Jammu and Kashmir ministry directly to Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi, claimed Saturday that the UPA chairperson had rejected his resignation and also declared Chief Minister Omar Abdullah as his leader.

Sayeed called for strengthening of the National Conference-Congress coalition government in the state.

Sayeed had by-passed the chief minister and sent the resignation letter to Sonia Gandhi.

Meanwhile, in Srinagar Omar said that Sayeed had been divested of the education portfolio, but would continue as a minister in his cabinet.

Reacting to Peerzada's statement that the Congress president Sonia Gandhi had rejected his resignation, Omar told media persons in Srinagar: "He has been divested of the education portfolio, but he continues to be the minister for Public Enterprises in the state."

Omar was replying a question about Peerzada's continuation in the cabinet.

Sayeed, one of the three elected legislators from the Valley in 2008, said though he had resigned, he was still a minister.

"I am still a minister and have the portfolio of public enterprises," he told reporters at his residence in Jammu Saturday.

The minister took pains to point out that he was a "true Congressman" and that he had resigned because of the allegations levelled against him. "I thought it proper to put in my papers and I sent my resignation to Congress president because I am a nominee of the party and for me, Congress is everything."

He also went out of his way to describe himself as the one who believed in the "functioning of the coalition government".

"All those who levelled allegations and spread words against the chief minister are enemies of the coalition government."

"They targeted me because I opened schools and made their strikes fail," the minister said in his reference to the opening of schools after a gap of four months in October 2010, despite the separatists call for strikes and closure of schools when the street protests were at their peak in the Kashmir Valley.

"These elements had ransacked my house and also tried to set it ablaze," he said.

He also chose not to make an issue of the chief minister.

"This is the prerogative of the Chief Minister," he told mediapersons.

The minister, however, took the caution of not referring to any individual or organization.

Sayeed had resigned Friday following his indictment after his son was found having cheated during the 2009 Class 10 examinations.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has divested the minister of his portfolio.

Omar would now look after the school education department as well.

Earlier, in 2010, the chief minister had taken away the power ministry from Congress leader and Public Works Department Minister G.M. Saroori after the latter was accused of helping his daughter in arranging an impersonator during a medical entrance test.

The decision to allow the minister to continue after allegations that he had misused his official position to help his son pass the secondary school exam has raised many eye-brows here.

It was generally expected that the Congress high command would forward his resignation to the chief minister for acceptance, but the announcement that he had been told to continue by the Congress high command has surprised everybody here.

Omar heads a coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir comprising his National Conference and the Congress party of which Peerzada Sayeed is a former state unit chief.






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