October 2002 News

Farooq still has role to play

18 October 2002
The Statesman
Keith Flory

New Delhi: The lamps burned frustratingly in North Block last night. For the last thing, the Centre had wanted, came to pass. J&K was brought under Goveror’s rule, not the brand of change for which the electorate had literally laid its life on the line only weeks ago. Dr Farooq Abdullah had declined to play ball. The picture will remain fuzzy till the politicians get their act together but it is becoming apparent that Dr Abdullah is flexing his muscle. Essentially to establish that he still has some to flex. The voter’s verdict let the NC down but not out. For all his assertions that “constitutional propriety” dictated his declining to accept the Governor’s request to continue in office till the next government was formed, Dr Abdullah’s refusal to stay on after the term of the outgoing Assembly expired actually amount to cocking a political snook at those who claimed victory in the polls. Unstated but implicit in his stepping down was his snubbing all those who had hailed the NC’s defeat as a victory for democracy, the beginning of a new chapter, the winds of change etc. If he and his party were being held primarily responsible for the ills that plague the state why should he hang around when so unwanted. That was his tongue-in-cheek query. The flip side to that being another unasked query: must he, after being painted in the blackest of hues, bail out those who were being projected as the paragons of virtue yet unable to put aside essentially ego-hassles to clean up the mess he had allegedly created? Yes, there was some constitutional value to his refusal to continue after the life of the assembly ran out. It was an oblique observation on Mr Narendra Modi doing the opposite after his party had beat the drums — even in the Supreme Court — about the critical provisions of Article 174 (1) and its six-month deadline that expired earlier this month. Dr Abdullah has also “taken on” Delhi by refusing to go along with the Prime Minister’s request to be accommodating in a difficult time. Could that be his way of paying back the Centre’s reluctance to accommodate him in the post-poll situation? The grapevine has it that after the NC lost out in the elections the Centre lost all interest in offering him the sinecure that had been dangled when son Omar was supposedly making new waves. Those who talk in terms of “national perspective” would flay Dr Abdullah for not being “responsible” but in the Valley his action could, conversely, win him some kudos. For refusing to toe Delhi’s line is often the pathway to Kashmiri admiration.


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