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NC has to make its choice
Omar’s ploy to run with the hare and hunt with the hound is beginning to backfire
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As they get nearer to the end of the stipulated tenure of their hollow coalition, the National Conference and the Congress are showing increasing signs of uneasiness about the prospects of continuing each other’s company. Largely on account of Omar Abdullah’s clumsy stewardship the coalition’s immediate past is haunting both the partners. These days their leaders have been spending more time in finger-pointing at each other than in counting the blessings of their uneasy company.

Their acrimonious exchanges are becoming more frequent. Each has been wasting its breath to rundown the other and, in the process, strengthen the impression that the only thing common left between them is the mutual mistrust and mutual hatred. Primarily these are the fruits of their initial opportunism when they forged their alliance without a common minimum programme. It was only the lure of political power that drew them towards each other. Even for that to happen, the Big Brother in New Delhi had to stage a coup by literally dragging Omar’s father from the pedestal. It was Dr Farooq Abdullah who was the NC’s chief ministerial candidate in the 2008 assembly polls; not his son who had been rejected in the previous round in 2002. Political propriety and moral legitimacy of the combination have been suspect ever since.

However, if Omar’s leadership had managed to achieve something worthwhile the coalition partners might still have found it convenient to stick around. But that has not been the case. As the next assembly elections come closer their mutual exchanges are becoming more and more acrimonious. Almost on each and every major political issue the coalition partners not only have been looking in opposite directions but have not missed any opportunity of running each other down in full public view. So much so that the chief minister’s own position is becoming untenable. Omar’s theatrics have worn too thin to cover up his abject failure on the performance front.

Congress is beginning to feel jittery about its own poll prospects in the chief minister’s company. The NC is suspecting evil intentions on the other side. PCC president Saifud Din Soz’s reported recent statement that the next government in Jammu and Kashmir would be that of his party has stung the NC. Dr Mustafa Kamal has been firing left, right and centre, in retaliation. Statements coming out from the two parties clearly point to the fact that, in effect, the coalition has immobilised itself as far as governance is concerned. Most recent instance being the NC’s bitter reaction to large scale clandestine recruitment of employees done by the Congress ministers, allegedly behind the back of the chief minister and his cabinet. One does not need to look beyond for convincing proof of the coalition government’s state of health.

The NC’s main problem is that its traditional stronghold, substantially eroded over the past two decades, is slipping out of its hands mainly because its leadership in power had failed to deliver. Omar Abdullah’s cries of helplessness (vis-a-vis New Delhi) lack conviction with his own people. More than four years in office, he can no longer convince his own supporters on why he had failed to honour the party’s electoral commitments. The quality of life under his rule has worsened even as the overall ground situation has visibly improved because of circumstances beyond his competence. Omar has failed to rein in security forces, even his own police. The number of innocent protesters killed by the police is staggering. And not a single guilty policeman has been held to account for his action. Bunglings in power distribution have created widespread resentment.

NC’s attempt to shift the blame on to the Congress does not wash. The failure of the Omar-led coalition on the performance front is beginning to pinch the NC more painfully. Its tiff with the Congress is only an aggravating factor in this situation. If Omar had been able to at least hold on to his ground within his own domain perhaps he would have found his ruling partner less troublesome. The Congress fears that the NC’s falling graph under Omar’s stewardship could be electorally hurtful. Not for nothing, these days some Congressmen feel bold enough to recall the ‘comparatively advantageous’ coalition they had with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) under Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s leadership.

It is now for the NC and its dynastic leadership to take an objective look and make up their mind. Riding two horses will not take it far. If anything, it is going to hit NC’s electoral prospects still more. That time has passed when voters in the Valley could be hoodwinked by political duplicity. In two successive elections, 2002 and 2008, voters have amply demonstrated their political maturity. The NC cannot evade making its future option clear instead of indulging in obfuscation. The choice is simple and straight: You are either with the Congress or you are on its opposite side. There is no half way house in this game.
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News Updated at : Friday, April 12, 2013
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