After 77 Years NC Has A Non-Abdullah Cart Puller

9 June 2014
Kashmir Observer

Srinagar: Farooq Abdullah, President of National Conference, Monday appointed senior party leader Ali Muhammad Sagar as the party General Secretary, relieving the long indisposed family elder Sheikh Nazir. The move has turned upside down the generations old NC tradition of keeping the key party positions, particularly the mandate-giving post of General Secretary, within the Abdullah family. First time since 1938, when Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah repositioned himself as the secular, nationalist leader of J&K, the National Conference seemed inching toward internal democratization. Although seen as a family loyalist, Sagar's appointment is widely seen as a step toward internal democratization. 'Farooq has actually set off the '4G version' of National Conference, which would now be guided by collective political aspirations rather than family interests,' said Muhammad Salim Khan, a party sympathizer. Many observers, however, say Sheikh Nazir's ill health prompted the need to appoint a 'submissive loyalist' at the crucial post. It was also evident when Farooq Abdullah, during the investiture ceremony at NC's Nawa-e-Subuh headquarters. 'Sheikh Nazir Sahab's health does not allow him to move out and despite that he has continued to serve this party with sweat and blood. However, the need of the hour is to reach out to the workers and the public in every nook and cranny of this State and the party has decided to appoint Ali Mohammad Sagar as the new General Secretary of the party to reach out to the grassroots and leave no stone unturned to consolidate and augment the enviable organizational strength of the party', Farooq Abdullah told a large hall that was filled with workers and sympathizers. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, known for his aversion to the party's 'old guard' which includes him besides Abdul Rahim Rather and Muhammad Shafi of Uri, said, 'Sagar Sahab will receive total and complete cooperation from us in his endeavors to strengthen the party and ensure that the workers are heard, respected for their views and acknowledged in their service.' Omar sounded weighed down by the voluminous challenge thrown up by the Peoples Democratic Party. 'It is easy to take over a position of responsibility in easier, smoother times but it is the test of leadership and caliber to take over such a responsibility at a time that demands enormous hard work and dedication.' Omar Abdullah assured Sagar active cooperation and 'engagement at every step.' Sagar got emotional while thanking the father-son duo for assigning him with a special and challenging task. 'I was not ready to take over this position because of the fact that Sheikh Nazir Ahmed is unmatched in stature and strength. I have always been a keen pupil who has always learnt from his knowledge and political wisdom. Now the party has asked me to serve in this position at a time when we need to consolidate our rank and file and ensure a strong and resolute comeback in the Assembly Elections.' Without naming anybody, Sagar further said, 'The flag of National Conference was more important than any individuals and personal political goals. It was Sher-e-Kashmir Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah who sacrificed his entire life for the welfare of our nation and this party, its stages and podiums all exist because of Sheikh Sahib's leadership and struggles. We must bear this in mind at all times and remember that slogans of the party and its towering leadership should come before any personal slogans and goals', Ali Mohammad Sagar said. This line of homilies seemed aimed at the newly emerged power centers around Omar Abdullah. Sagar's appointment, analysts say, could encourage internal democratization within other parties such as PDP. 'Sagar's appointment is in tune with the temper of times. A current of new polity like Aam Admi has already swept India and the politics is no longer the forte of feudal lords. This fact should have been picked up by Abdullah much earlier. It cost them three parliament constituencies to understand the need of internal democratization,' said Abdul Majeed, a keen Kashmir watcher.