Premature To Call High Voter Turnout Defeat Of Separatism: Omar Abdullah

26 November 2014
Greater Kashmir
Muddasir Ali

Srinagar: Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Wednesday said it was too early to call the large turnout of voters in the first phase of Assembly elections in Kashmir as 'defeat of separatism', saying 'any judgment' can be passed once the five-phased elections are over. 'It (turnout) was very encouraging,' Omar said, after filing his nomination from Sonwar constituency here. 'I think yesterday was victory of democracy, no matter where the votes went because we will only know who voted where on December 23 (the result day).' The Chief Minister said he was 'very heartened' by overwhelming participation of people in the election. 'Having said that, this is not a single-phase election and there are more phases to go and therefore before we pass any judgment on ballot over bullet or defeat of separatism, I think we shall wait for these phases to pass and hopefully they will pass as peacefully as this phase and hopefully there is large turnout of voters and then we can pass the judgment,' Omar responded to a question. 15 Assembly constituencies across J&K-five in Kashmir and 10 in Jammu-that went to polls yesterday in the first-phase recorded 71 percent polling. In Kashmir, participation of electorate was a record of sorts after 1990, with Bandipora district registering 75 percent polling in its three constituencies while nearly 65 percent of electorate exercising their franchise in two constituencies of Ganderbal. Omar is contesting from Sonwar and Beerwah in Budgam after he quit his family stronghold, Ganderbal. He has already filed nomination from Beerwah. Heavy security cover had been put in place in and outside the District Election Officer's complex here, where Omar filed his nomination. The forces didn't allow even Omar's supporters to enter the premises after the Chief Minister faced angry flood victims here few days back when he was accompanying party leader Nasir Wani for filing his nomination. Reaching out to people, Omar-whose term ends in January next-said he was 'extremely grateful' to people who braved cold and 'other things' to come out and vote. 'I hope people in subsequent phases will come out and vote and follow this,' he said. PRAISES MODI: Omar said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has achieved 'greatest success' on the external front. However he said he hasn't seen much in terms of achievements by Modi 'within India.' 'I think his (Modi's) biggest success has been to get the American President (Barack Obama) as chief guest for (next) Republic Day,' Omar said. Omar counted as 'good job' Modi's reaching out to neighboring countries 'which had traditionally felt very ignored.' 'Within the country, I think six months is perhaps not long enough to judge his performance but definitely some of the election promises particularly the one regarding black money that we were promised would be brought back, has not happened,' Omar said. ON INDO-PAK TALKS DURING SAARC: Omar reiterated that dialogue was the only way between India and Pakistan to resolve Kashmir. 'If SAARC (summit in Kathmandu) provides the opportunity, then nothing like that,' he said in response to a question. 'I don't think anybody in his right mind will not want dialogue.' He said in the past New Delhi has tried all options available on the table to resolve issues with Islamabad. 'We tried wars, suspended dialogue but the closest we have ever come to resolving the issue ever is when we have been talking either during Atal Bihari Vajpayee or Manmohan Singh's tenure,' Omar recalled. 'We hope the sources or elements of suspicion and hostility that have crept into our relations can gradually be done away with.' ON VOTING: Omar said the increase in the peoples' participation in yesterday's polls has 'benefited' his party National Conference. He said National Conference was the 'only' party in the state having cadre in all the three regions of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. 'In this situation, if there is increase in participation, it is evident that NC will benefit because our cadre is everywhere,' Omar said. However Omar refused to comment on Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi's remarks on Kashmir wherein the latter had blamed the Omar Government for poor performance during six years. 'I haven't come across any such remarks,' Omar said.