The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Split spectre haunts Farooq

New Delhi, Oct. 21: Despite putting up a brave face and trying to win a moral high ground on giving up the chair, Farooq Abdullah is under tremendous pressure from the National Conference.

A section in the party believes that had son Omar won the Ganderbal seat, the National Conference, as the single largest party, would have got the numbers and formed a government with the help of Independents.

Although Farooq admitted at a news conference last week that there was disaffection in his party, he did not elaborate. His decision to resign as caretaker chief minister and compel Girish Saxena to impose Governor’s rule had much to do with keeping his flock together.

The party cadre was getting restless and wanted some assurance that the National Conference would remain a major player in Kashmir.

Governor’s rule has helped to confuse and complicate the political scene in Kashmir. The National Conference is making capital out of the Congress and the People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) inability to cobble up a coalition. The party is now campaigning to turn public attention towards the battle between the the Congress and the PDP for the post of chief minister, thus exposing their indifference to the people’s mandate.

The Abdullahs believe the time is not ripe to stake claim to form a government. They are hoping the Congress and the PDP will not succeed in patching up their differences. The National Conference will wait for some time before making a move.

In the meantime, father and son are sending the right signals to party members by trying to convince them that as the largest single party, doors are open for talks with Independents. Bhim Singh of the Panthers Party has already met Farooq and spent nearly an hour at his home.

The problems of the Congress and the PDP are entirely different. The Congress is also under pressure from its newly elected legislators who believe the state will be lost forever if Ghulam Nabi Azad, “a man from our region”, is not allowed to become chief minister.

“How will we face our voters' We had campaigned for a chief minister from Jammu and if we allow this opportunity to go, the BJP and RSS will make political capital out of this,” said Girdhari Lal, a newly elected MLA from Kathua.

Legislators from Jammu have clearly told Congress managers that if the party cannot make use of this opportunity, its future in the state will remain bleak. The post-election bickering between the Congress and the PDP has sharpened the regional divide in the state.

People of Jammu will never forgive Mufti Mohammad Sayeed for his insistence that the chief minister of Kashmir should be from the Valley.

“Mufti has been foolish and (has) played into the hands of the BJP and the RSS,” a journalist from Jammu observed. “His PDP will never win seats from here. Mufti was a popular man in Jammu till he made these remarks,” he added.

However, Mufti also has his compulsions. He believes his party is in a position to “give a healing touch” to the people of the Valley.

“This is the time for patching up, for recuperating and for beginning a fresh chapter in a state bloodied by 12 years of violence. Only a regional party is in a position to deliver,” Mufti had said after the PDP’s good showing in the elections.

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