When Omar Abdullah was elected the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir in early 2009 there was much celebration over the young leader assuming this very sensitive responsibility. This jubilation was based on a general perception that the younger generation brings with it a wave of optimism that is refreshing as compared to the dodgy old school version of politics based on rigid systems of governance. As the youngest Chief Minister (CM) any Indian state has ever had, Omar Abdullah’s welcome to the office, therefore, was a hope for better things in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). Omar’s political career began when he was 29. Belonging to what is referred to as the “first family” of Kashmir, he has a political lineage. His grandfather Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah, continues to be the most towering political figure in the history of J&K. After having been elected to the Lok Sabha, he became the youngest minister in the Vajpayee government. His charisma grew when he met the then Pakistani President, Pervez Musharraf, in Islamabad in 2006. It was believed that he took the Kashmiri with great idealism as this was the first time any mainstream politician from Kashmir had met with the Pakistani government. This was followed by his passionate speech in the Lok Sabha in 2008 which won acclaim from all quarters.
Omar Abdullah seemed like a brand of politician that signified change and better change. In the time he served in the government before taking over as the CM, he actively and decisively participated in all issues involving Kashmir. There was an idealism attached to him, a kind of idealism that is rare to be associated with politicians in general and more so with Indian politicians. Especially with the sensibilities of the young, one generally believes that the idealism will be substantially productive.
As CM of the trouble torn State, Omar started experiencing pressure of a different nature. He came under attack for human rights violations, poor governance, inability to handle crisis situation and a host of other issues An editorial in Greater Kashmir noted “…ever since the new government took over the state administration has not only been handling every situation ineptly but also ridiculously… (Administration) has been detaining and slapping Public Safety Acts against the voices of dissent and disagreement on absurd and ludicrous grounds that have made it a laughing stock within and outside the state…”. There were many other accusations of a similar nature involving alleged misuse of security enabling legislations.
One wonders as to why the leader did not call upon his intrinsic idealism to bail himself out of these difficult situations? What happened to the young Kashmiri who made the speech about being an Indian and a Muslim and the two not being distinct, who believed that the enemies of the Indian Muslims “are the same as the enemies of all those who are poor—poverty, hunger, lack of development and the absence of a voice…” Omar Abdullah’s charisma and passion seems to have diminished with the accountability of the high office of CM. Is it because idealism is quite distinct from the practicalities of governance? Possibly, the responsibility of the high office brings with it the pressure of conformity.
Omar Abdullah cialis online without prescription explained the Kashmir crisis in a famous talk show few years ago before coming to power. “Kashmir is essentially a political issue. It needs political handling. It’s not good enough that you give a Rupees 24,000 crore reconstruction package or that you announce all sorts of confidence building measures. It’s not about the money or the political building measures, it’s about the political solution that you need to work out.” Apparently, he understands the dynamics at play in Kashmir, understands the public attitude and yet he is deviating from the very thought process that he has been advocating so passionately over the years.
His recent statement over revoking AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Privileges Act) in few areas ‘within a few days’ is also being seen as a manifestation of his political compulsions; on being subjected to severe criticism he changed tack to claim that the statement was never a proposal but subject to discussion formally in Jammu. A frequent user of the social media twitter, he tweeted on AFSPA, “AFSPA was applied selectively and progressively as militancy expanded. The reverse must happen now.” Taking a cue from his thought process some members of his party went on to blame the security forces for certain bomb blasts which was not taken on well by the Army, the central government, other political parties and of course, the people. Tjhis put Omar on yet another very sensitive back foot.
AFSPA is a delicate matter. While it is understood that no decision must be hurried, Omar needs to bring about a consensus on it and the foundation of any consensus is invariably based on ideals; the real test for the Chief Minister will come with handling the issue both decisively and righteously.
After a couple of not so great years in power it is about time that he took matters into his hands, and took them well more significantly. There are many aspects to Kashmir’s existence – some good, some bad and some unwanted. Any kind of change is a gradual process which requires both patience and sustained activity. Omar does understand the various aspects of Kashmir’s existence but it’s time for him to bring back the idealism. He once said, “I don’t care what image people derive of me from time to time. One day it’s good, one day it’s bad. It ebbs and flows.” The image is subject to change but ideologies do not and should not. Now that he has the capacity of performing, it’s for the best if it’s utilized the right way.