Chief Ministership of Omar Abdullah-A ‘trialrun’ that failed
Among the privileges afforded a Chief Minister the most precious is an opportunity to change the destiny of his people.
Such a privilege afforded Omar Abdullah in the year 2008 when he became the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir. He had staged a soft coup against his better known father Farooq Abdullah. His predecessor Gulam Nabi Azad, the most powerful courtier of Gandhi family, it is generally believed, had abetted this soft coup by projecting Omar Abdullah-for-CM as a trial run for the then impending ‘takeover’ of Rahul Gandhi as Prime Minister in the UPA-II Government replacing a willing, in fact, too willing, Man Mohan Singh.
People of this beleaguered state welcomed the fresh fragrance in the autumn of 2009 and had ‘great expectations’ from this third generation leader of the Abdullah Clan.
Many of us late converts got sold to the idea of this trial run – Yes, indeed, why not give youth a chance ?The people of Valley in particular and entire Jammu and Kashmir in general – a traumatised lot, badly needed this youth makeover of State leadership.
In 2008 when he took over as Chief Minister heading the NC-Congress coalition with both his father Dr. Farooq Abdullah as well as his promoter Gulam Nabi Azad as powerful Ministers in the Union Cabinet he enjoyed ‘excellent connect’ with the powers in Centre. His close friendship with Rahul Gandhi provided him protective armor for any eventual trouble from his coalition partners. All these attributes were ideal for good governance and to come up to the ‘great expectations’ of his people.
The raised expectations fell by the fall of 2009 and merged with heaps of fallen Chinar leaves to be burned into ash in Kangris. The stone palters agitation had taken its toll. The prolonged agitation by the infamous ‘stone palters ‘in the Valley made Omar Abdullah learn a hard way that the Chief Minister is a 24×7 public servant and not a COO of a Private Limited Company following a five-days- office- and-two-days- for- family schedule.
This followed a period of governance which has been woefully short of substance but high on rhetoric. The only people who seemed to have thrived during his rule of over five years are an unusually large number of corrupt government officials and ministers in his Coalition Government. The same Omar Abdullah who had roared in the Parliament during a discussion on ‘Amarnath Yatra Row’ in the year 2008 now attributes his well known flip-flops in governing this State to compulsions of running a Coalition Government a la former Prime Minister of India Man Mohan Singh who seemed to have perfected this form of ‘art-of-governance’ during UPA-I and UPA-II rule.
60-yrs of neglect and discrimination had been the main issue which had fueled and sustained Amarnath Yatra Row Agitation of 2008 and it was generally expected that some corrective measures would be taken by Omar Abdulla to address this sense of imbalance. Omar’s response, however has been simply brazen and at times contemptuous too.
With the change of guard in the Centre Omar, now, finds himself out of power loop. His disconnect with centre is obvious from his forlorn look in presence of new set of Central Ministers. A sulking Omar Abdullah and an ailing Dr. Farooq Abdullah do not inspire the rank and file of National Conference for the coming battle of the ballot.
The PDP, the National Conference and the Congress Party (in this very order) have lined up their troops for this battle of ballot. The BJP Central leadership had grandiosely announced their Mission-44 almost two months back but on the ground zero nothing seems to be happening. Much delayed ‘huddle’ of BJP leadership did take place in Delhi more than two weeks back but none from the State leadership has any clue about the game plan of ‘Mission-44’.
Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, Patron of PDP, has lately been quite upbeat especially after PDP won all the three seats it had contested in the Valley in May Parliament Elections. The PDP leadership has prudently refused to take bait by refraining from sparring with the NC leadership over the issues of Palestine turmoil, cancellation of Indo-Pak peace talks and persistent ceasefire violations on LoC.
Of late Mufti has also been poaching in BJP/NC/Congress turf in Jammu Province. In early August we saw a beeline of local ‘some bodies’ joining PDP. Some of them made a ‘big show’ of this. In their haste to showcase their increasing presence in Jammu region the PDP leaders have also accumulated a baggage of ‘Zeroes’. In one of such events addressing a gathering of the glitter and glitterati of Jammu Mufti Mohammed Sayeed made a significant announcement – “We are preparing a Vision Document of Jammu to be released before elections”. If Mufti indeed comes out with such a document it would be for the first time in the post independence history of Jammu and Kashmir that the leadership from Valley would reach out to people of Jammu region in a significant manner. Until now for the entire leadership in Valley in J and K State the ‘K ‘is key word ‘J’stands for Junk.