Political Crisis Could Mark Generational Shift In NC, PDP

8 July 2008

Srinagar: Amid the political crisis that unfolded in Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of the transfer of forest land to Shri Amarnath Shrine Board, which culminated in the fall of Ghulam Nabi Azad-led government, a significant development within the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party, the two main contenders for power, has passed off almost unnoticed. While in PDP, Mehbooba Mufti handled the most challenging task of her political career in the absence of her father and mentor, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, in the NC, Omar Abdullah shouldered the responsibility of making the crucial decisions with his father and party patron, Farooq Abdullah, staying out of the scene. According to political observers, had Mufti Sayeed and Farooq Abdullah been around during the present crisis, the state’s political scene could have been different from what it is today. “Given their strong Delhi-connections, Farooq and Mufti could have been prevailed upon by their ‘friends’ to save the crisis from precipitating and, in all probability, the duo might have obliged them someway,” a political analyst opined. In sharp contrast, Omar and Mehbooba proved hard nuts to crack for New Delhi. According to political analysts, as both Omar and Mehbooba are pitched in a fierce political competition with their equally vocal pro-freedom contemporaries like Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Yasin Malik and Sajjad Lone, the former had no choice but to sound equally, if not more, nationalistic in their overtones, what their fathers perhaps could not afford to do. Watching Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti on various TV channels during the recent political upheaval, one could feel what they were up to. Besides their political competitions and compulsions, there is an equally vital intra-party aspect as well to the emergence of Omar and Mehbooba on the state’s political scene. Although the NC has declared Farooq Abdullah as the party’s chief ministerial candidate for the upcoming elections, he left the choice open during a recent interview on NDTV. When asked by the interviewer whether it was now final that he (Dr Abdullah) would take over as the next chief minister in the event of the NC getting the majority, the NC patron retorted, “wait and see”, leaving the choice open. On the other hand, although everybody within the PDP has taken it for granted that Mufti Muhammad Sayeed would be the party’s chief ministerial candidate in the assembly elections, the old-horse of the state politics could spring an eleventh hour surprise by leaving the hot seat for his daughter. The way Mufti Sayeed has facilitated Mehbooba handling the latest political crisis, both within and outside the party, could well mark the beginning of a generational change in the PDP. By staying out of the scene at the crucial juncture, analysts feel, Mufti not only allowed Mehbooba to deal with the situation on her own but also facilitated her to tighten the grip on the party. “No doubt the next move of Mufti would be to hand over to her the charge of leading the party in the upcoming elections as the chief ministerial candidate,” opine the political analysts. So, the coming election could mark a tussle between the Young Turks of the two principal contestants, the NC and the PDP.