Friday, November 20, 2009

Omar’s losing battle

The multiple challenges facing Omar Abdullah – external as well as internal – threaten to cut short the tenure of J&K’s youngest chief minister, reports Zubair A Dar

The Jammu and Kashmir cabinet expansion this week – six months after Omar Abdullah took over as the state's chief minister – exposed all the cracks in the Congress-National Conference coalition. The first embarrassment for Omar came when pradesh Congress committee chief Saif-u-Din Soz addressed a news conference to announce the portfolios allotted to his party men. The move may have prevented further erosion, but it also strengthened the general impression of Omar being a weak chief minister. Soz’s insistence that Omar had been “taken into confidence” did nothing to repair the damage that had been done.

It is already known that Soz has reported Omar’s interference in the J & K government affairs to the Congress high command. Insiders say that Soz, who left the National Conference after voting against his party whip in Parliament – thereby leading to the fall of the Vajpayee government – preferred the People’s Democratic Party to the National Conference. Former J&K chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, on the other hand, prefers the NC. All this has been hurting the Omar Abdullah-led coalition .

“The Congress is not being reasonable,” believes Professor Gul Mohammad Wani of the Political Science Department at Kashmir University. “The rift between the Soz and Azad factions is spoiling Omar’s chances.” It greatly adds to the challenges that Omar has faced in the past six months as chief minister of this “difficult” state, which lately has seen further deterioration of the human rights situation. “There is a very strong impression that things are not going according to plan. In the beginning the perception was that the clean Omar carried no baggage and had a vision for his state,” says Wani. “But at this point Omar is mired in all kinds of confusion.”

The violence that has rocked Kashmir valley over the last two months, following the rape and murder of two women in the south Kashmir town of Shopian, and the death of four youngsters in police firing in Baramulla, have been giving the Omar Abdullah administration sleepless nights. By the time Omar responded by withdrawing the CRPF from the town, the situation had gone completely out of control – a fact of which the opposition PDP took full advantage.

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Source :
IIPM Editorial, 2009

An IIPM and Professor Arindam Chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist) Initiative

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