October 2002 News

NC has found right road sign: Omar

30 October 2002
The Indian Express
Nazir Masoodi

Srinagar: National Conference president Omar Abdullah has said he is wiser now about people’s aspirations and their expectations from his party. It was unwise, he said, to be pro-Delhi at the cost of losing support in Kashmir. ‘‘Rather than being Kashmir’s voice in Delhi, we were perceived to be Delhi’s voice in Kashmir,’’ Omar said in an interview with The Indian Express. He now plans to rediscover NC’s roots and revamp its structure. The party, Omar said, paid for straying from its political agenda of autonomy for the state. The NC had won on that poll plank in 1996. ‘‘We have lost our roots, we need to find them again.’’ Amid various leaders’ persuasion to stay on in Delhi, Omar has decided against it. ‘‘Doctor sahib (Farooq) has conveyed to the NDA convenor that I’m not going back to Delhi. The PM has to accept it (resignation) today or tomorrow,’’ he said. Dissatisfied with his father’s government and its image, Omar seeks a return to grandfather Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’s political agenda. He had spent 22 years in jail for launching a plebiscite movement after his ouster as PM and detention in 1953. Omar said: ‘‘We knew what people wanted but we failed to deliver. We did a lot of development and provided jobs to people. But we strayed from our political agenda,’’ he said. And PDP chief Mufti Mohammad Sayeed took advantage, he said, and cornered votes on issues such as POTA repeal and Special Operations Group (SOG) disbanding. ‘‘This was a lesson for us.’’ The Farooq government’s POTA implementaion and Mufti’s vow to repeal it made a difference. Omar believes the euphoria of Mufti’s ‘‘pro-people’’ agenda will fizzle out with time. ‘‘I told Mufti sahib he will face the same problems NC ran into. It’s a different game — being in the Opposition and running a government.’’ One thing the NC won’t do, Omar emphasised, is ‘‘rely on the new government’s mistakes to win (back) people’s support’’. ‘‘Let people judge our deeds. I have always done what I have said.’’ Omar, however, criticised the PDP- Congress alliance for overlooking greater autonomy in their common minimum programme.


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