Omar Abdullah and Rahul Gandhi in Anantnag on Monday. (PTI)
Khanabal (Anantnag), April 27: Twenty-three years after their fathers famously joined hands, Rahul Gandhi and Omar Abdullah have done an action replay.
The scions of the Nehru-Gandhi and Abdullah families today made their first public appearance together in Kashmir, recalling the coming together of Rajiv Gandhi and Farooq Abdullah in 1986 to stitch up a poll pact.
Rahul was here to help friend Omar in the pocket borough of PDP rival Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who appears confident about retaining this south Kashmir seat.
When the 1986 accord was signed, Sayeed, then a Congress member, was on Rajiv Gandhis side. But today he is the face of the soft-separatist agenda crafted to dent the dominance of the National Conference, which has prompted Omar to look to an Indian party to bail it out.
Rahul pleaded for votes for Omars party and reminded the people of the special ties it shared with the Congress.
I have come here for my friend Omar. We have a family relationship with Kashmir. When I was young I used to come with my grandmother…. Omars grandfather and my grandfather shared a special bond, he said.
I have not come here as a politician. I am a youth and want to befriend fellow Kashmiri youth. I am extending a hand of friendship to you.
The special relationship between Omars grandfather Sheikh Abdullah and Jawaharlal Nehru had strengthened the bond between Delhi and Srinagar. But the two fell out in 1953, Nehru suspecting his friend of harbouring separatist ambitions.
When Sheikh Abdullah gave up his separatist ideology in 1975, Nehrus daughter Indira welcomed him back to the mainstream. The accord led to Sheikh Abdullahs installation as chief minister.
Wearing the Kashmiri cap karakuli, Rajiv and Farooq had announced their friendship at Srinagars Iqbal park. But that led to the 1987 election, which is believed to have been rigged and is partly blamed for triggering the insurgency.
We want progress and prosperity and will fight for it. Whatever help is needed for Kashmir I will get it from the Centre for you. You can come to Delhi and I will fight for you, Rahul said today.