NC’s Srinagar show; endorsement to amenable Farooq Abdullah
After getting elected to Lok Sabha in Srinagar by-election in April last with a margin of just 10,700 votes of the seven per cent polled votes of total 11,06,729 electors, National Conference President Dr Farooq Abdullah has a reason to feel elated over proportionately good show in the just held Delegates Session that gave him yet another term as President. Is his re-election any indicator of fast changing political equations in Kashmir? Is the re-election as simple and straight as it meets the eyes?
A week ahead of his re-election, rumours were rife that Farooq Abdullah will pass on the baton to son Omar Abdullah. The ‘grand’ delegate session itself was an indicator of the changeover. He himself expressed it in so many words but ended up with saying that son Omar declined. He said he was getting old and did not want to continue as the party president. “The doctors in the world have been unable so far to invent an injection to reverse ageing”, he said and added that the party insisted him to continue as president and he would continue with the responsibility. He asserted that finally Omar has to take over the responsibility. However, the explanation needed more force, as the National Conference cannot justify such a pomp and show, given the fact that elections took place in full public gaze after 15 years. The Constitution of the National Conference envisages election after every three years. But this did not happen, which even evoked the attention of Election Commission of India.
[box type=”note” fontsize=”16″ radius=”5″]Omar Abdullah is true to his words and does not indulge in political maneuvering while senior Abdullah can sing tunes in favour of the BJP and at the same time spit venom as well. This unique capability of Farooq over Omar is seen as a plus point for taking NC to corridors of power. [/box]The last delegate session of National Conference was held in 2002 when the ‘reluctant’ Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah had passed on the command to Omar Abdullah in equally elaborate manner. He, however, reclaimed the position silently in 2008, perhaps in a routine working committee meeting, when Omar Abdullah was set to fit in his shoes in the government as Chief Minister.
In the din of louder National Conference noises, the reason for Omar Abdullah not taking over the party reins will not be known for some time to come. But the crucial developments taking place for the past fortnight can surely throw some light over the strategy of Kashmir’s largest opposition party. The decision to re-elect Farooq Abdullah will have to be seen in the larger political scenario where in PDP stands marginalized for variety of reasons-the 2016 unrest and alliance with the BJP being the primary ones. The senior ruling coalition partner has lost the sheen and is on the radar of terrorists. One after the other fatal attacks on its cadre shows the vanishing sympathy among separatists, who are, directly or indirectly, directing the so-called Jihad. To retrieve back the lost support, the PDP cannot, therefore, be as supportive to the BJP ‘vision on Kashmir’ as it volunteered after Mehbooba Mufti reluctantly agreed to head the coalition government. The PDP is showing signs of dissent though subtly. The BJP think-tank is thus exploring options other than the PDP. This does not, however, mean the National Conference filling in the blanks. But the BJP would surely like the party to be approachable. This was not possible with Omar Abdullah leading the ‘once’ premier party of Kashmir. He is seen as a hard task master and relatively discreet in choosing words as compared to his father. While Omar Abdullah is true to his words and does not indulge in political maneuvering, senior Abdullah can sing tunes in favour of the BJP and at the same time spit venom as well. This unique capability of Farooq over Omar is seen as a plus point for taking NC to corridors of power.
The BJP knows that Farooq Abdullah can go to any extent in bashing with his choicest phraseology but he is amenable too. Having lot of charisma and charm with common people, the elder Abdullah has the capacity to change turbulent tides. This has been proven in 1996 when he spearheaded the political process and gave Jammu and Kashmir a political dispensation amid heightened anti-India campaign by terrorists and Pakistan in the Valley. Farooq Abdullah was perhaps the only mainstream leader who took a stand against Pak sponsored and aided terror camps in Pakistan occupied Kashmir and their stooges in the Valley. He is still being criticized by his political adversaries and separatists of Kashmir for his favourite threats of ‘bombing terror camps’ across.
Notwithstanding the fact that he is among the leading anti-BJP politician in Kashmir as of now, the political think tank in Delhi appreciates Farooq Abdullah’s potential of amenability. He has the capacity and flexibility to befriend the BJP by repeating what he had told an audience, including the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, on 25th April 2011 in his capacity as Union Renewable Energy Minister, “I want to see the day in my life when I (would) look in Modi’s eyes (and) I would be able to see my Allah, and when Modi looks in my eyes, he will see his Bhagwan.” The BJP has been keeping an olive branch ready for Farooq Abdullah. And, this fact is known to NC stalwarts.
An influential section in the National Conference realizes that remaining out of power for continuous 12 years in Jammu and Kashmir can cost them the postal address. They don’t want to miss the bus in 2020 or before, if elections become imperative in the State. They want to keep a window open. They see Farooq Abdullah as a game-changer because of his amenability and flexibility.