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Political debacle of National Conference
By Hasib Ahmed
Parliamentary Election of 2014 has added a dark chapter in the history of National Conference. It has taught it a lesson that a deviation from regional objective of a regional party is not acceptable for those who have faith that issues at the grassroots can be better served by the regional party. This is what happened with National Conference which committed several mistakes in its current regime. Omar's realization of past mistakes after the assembly election is a compulsion for him. There was a lot of expectation, from Omar Abdullah, among people particularly among youth when he took over as Chief Minister because he was named by his party colleagues a young and dynamic. But his government failed to come up to the expectations of the people.

Both National Conference and Congress shifted blame of misgovernence on the shoulder of each other. This coalition government suffered continuously from cold war between coalition partners over various political issues since its establishment. Congress workers were demanding the rotational CM but by calling this rotational agreement a closed chapter Congress high command gave whole tenure to Omar Abdullah to achieve some long run objectives. Resentment was growing among the people since his appointment, for example for tackling the situation of 2010 when 120 youth were killed in police firing. When youth of Kashmir were mourning the death of these 120 youth he came up with his new recruitment policy which aggravated the already risen resentment. The main mistake for Omar was that he approached Delhi for every problem. People of Kashmir were having more faith upon regional party and that is why National Conference which is basically a regional party was given mandate by the people. Interest of national party is somewhat different from that of regional party. Omar being the partner of coalition government with Congress, he could not take the interest of people whom he represents.

The previous government of PDP-Congress ushered in some development works and employment in their respective period in order to win credit. Mufti Mohd Sayeed, after taking over as CM, scrapped the ban on recruitment which Farooq Abdullah had imposed. Hence there was hope that Omar, being young, would do every possible thing for youth but he could not come up to the expectations of the people. In our state development is not the only problem the main problem is political. There was resentment over the rape and murder case of Asiya and Neelofar in which Omar also came up with the drowning theory. Instead of taking into confidence the angry youth Omar came up with a new nomenclature of stone pelter for protestors as if they were professional in this job. It should not be difficult for the leader to take into confidence those who have chosen him because they are not strange before him.

Omar assumed that to remain in coalition is a safe method to create monopoly in the political market and rule by making people fools. But clean sweep of PDP in recent Parliamentary Election in Kashmir showed that political market has changed now and only those will survive who will offer better services. In retrospect, Omar came up with scrapping recruitment policy. Scraping of new recruitment policy opened a pandora's box i.e. this policy was implemented on the pretext of financial constraints. But one may question how these funds became available overnight; naturally it was the fear of political eclipse which made him to forget the financial constraints. When this policy was framed there was massive protest by students for many days and on the opening of offices at winter capital the day was declared as holiday so that the working of the government should not be effected on the first day. Students were beaten ruthlessly by police but the policy was kept intact and now the decision of scrapping came overnight. SMS was banned on the pretext of law and order maintenance by forgetting the fact that law and order problem was deeper during 90s when there was not even a mobile phone. Request for lifting the ban was turned down by calling it the affair of union home ministry who was not strange party for NC. Ironically, the ban was lifted when there was no government in the centre.

There were certain policies of central government which created alienation among people of Kashmir, for example the draconian AFSPA, PSA etc were misused for getting promotions. People from native place of Afzal Guru showed their sympathy with his family by not casting even a single vote as in their opinion he was not given a fair trial. He was made scapegoat for satisfying the collective conscience of blood thirsty mob. Accusation of being soft over terrorism sent him to gallows in hush-hush manner by choosing him out of turn from the list. Omar was accused of not doing the needful and did not resist up to his full capacity. Exemption of death penalty to the killer of Rajiv Gandhi created further added to alienation of people of Kashmir.

Congress being national party and National Conference a regional party, Omar could not find a middle path which could cater to the interest of both. Observation of clash of national and regional interest is difficult in the coalition government which is considered an opportunistic power sharing agreement. Certain expectations came from Omar Abdullah when he gave a political speech at Delhi during Amarnath land row that regional interest will be better served by him. But after taking over as Chief Minister, he simply became a critic of separatist leaders of Kashmir who have massive following there. Omar was blamed for appeasing UPA government for their generosity of given cabinet berth for father and chief ministership for son by forgetting the basic agenda of his party. Issue of mass graves and physically disappeared persons from custody of security forces became the casualty in the way of two different regional and national interests. Appointment and recommendations of interlocutors proved merely a futile exercise.

The issue of lack of direct contact with the common people was raised by party workers. After taking over as CM, Omar was enthusiastic and paid a surprise visit to government offices but with the passage of time that enthusiasm died down. He had sufficient time of six year to gain the confidence of the people by ushering in the development schemes. But he came up in the last year of his regime with opening of new administrative units upon the basis of contractual appointment for those educated youth who are likely to get over aged because no advertisement was made to fill the vacant post in his five and half year tenure. He could neither materialise his promise of giving eighty thousand jobs in his tenure even after following the new recruitment policy nor fill the irrational promise of one government, one job per family which don't have a government job. Appointment of Assistant Professor in higher education is still hanging in balance and for the past three year Minister of School Education assured many times that post of 10+2 lecturers has been referred to Public Service Commission but till now no advertisement has been made. Contractual appointment in these education institutions has been a panacea for running these institutions by paying less than subsistence level and taking full advantage of option less educated youth.

It is quite unfortunate that after getting a lesson in the parliamentary elections, he shifted the blame on the shoulders of his MLAs regarding the growing discontentment among people. If we assume that he is right, he being the leader of government must keep a vigil eye on the performance of his workers/MLAs as his excuse is unacceptable and merely a childish joke before people.

The author hails from Bhadarwah and is Research Scholar of Economics at University of Jammu

News Updated at : Monday, June 2, 2014
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