Omar must succeed to keep NC relevant
The upsurge in Kashmir is a cause for real concern. The political class must not see it as a partisan issue to clobber the UPA and the National Conference. They need to work in tandem to put the situation back on rails—- a task easier said than accomplished unless there’s clarity over the objectives and a broad consensus on the route to reach the destination.
A plethora of factors have contributed to the Valley turning from bad to worse— factionalism within the NC and the Congress; the PDP’s confrontationist attitude; the Centre’s inertia and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s “governance deficit” that could cost him his career in politics.
Mahbooba Mufti and the BJP want Omar to quit, arguing that he really was the problem and couldn’t, therefore, be part of any solution. Secretly though, even the CM’s father, Farooq Abdullah, wouldn’t mind a leadership change so long it remains within his family.
But should Omar go or be given more time and support as pleaded by Rahul Gandhi? The young Gandhi has defended the young Abdullah upfront on the ground that he has had a very difficult job to do.
I’m not sure about wagering the way Rahul has on Omar’s continuation. But I see in the high-velocity campaign against the CM a clear and palpable danger of today’s Generation-X being branded as inept and inefficient.
To that limited extent, I dread a repeat of the eighties that saw the vilification of Rajiv Gandhi and the AGP-AASU that came to power in Assam. Not that they weren’t at fault. But much of the propaganda against them was rooted in their rivals’ fears of a life in political Siberia if the Gen-X was to succeed.
While his detractors painted Rajiv as inexperienced and unrealistic quite early in his tenure, AGP’s leading lights Prafulla Mohanta and Bhrigu Phukan— who rose from the AASU ranks — were torn apart through intrigues and conspiracies.
Regardless of his shortcomings and their grave implications in Kashmir, Omar must, in my view, get one last chance to set things right. That’ll be the correct approach, as his removal midstream offers no guarantee of Kashmir returning to normalcy. One also has to bear in mind the pro-India NC’s relevance after Farooq Abdullah.
Those critical of Rahul’s advocacy of Omar must not forget that he was equally candid in his praise of Bihar CM Nitish Kumar in the run-up to the 2009 Lok Sabha polls. Our political culture would only enhance if rivals showed healthy regard for each other and desisted exploiting issues requiring a national consensus.
That said, young Omar must reflect as to why and how has he become so unpopular with Kashmiris of his own generation. The PDP must have fuelled the discontent. But the first embers of discord came from the CM’s failure to relate with his people.