Centre Uneasy Over Omar’s Rising Unpopularity

Centre Uneasy Over Omar’s Rising Unpopularity

15 August 2010
The Economic Times


New Delhi: THE dwindling political stock of the Abdullah family in Jammu and Kashmir and the inability of chief minister Omar Abdullah to connect with the population of the Valley are complicating the Centre’s efforts to bringing back normalcy in the state. Although there is recognition in the government here that Omar Abdullah is critical for its plans for the border state, the chief minister’s growing unpopularity is a cause of worry. In discussions with the chief minister, the political and bureaucratic leadership here have been advising the chief minister to take proactive measures for refurbishing his image. There is anger over his failure to quell the anger against the state administration. “The administration is in shambles. The chief minister is relying on his non-political advisors and has virtually shut the doors even for senior leaders of the National Conference,” said a senior leader here. The chief minister himself is aware of Delhi’s disenchantment. At a recent meeting on Kashmir convened by the prime minister, Mr Abdullah went to the extent of saying that he was willing to step aside if that would help matters. The leadership had allayed his apprehensions and ruled out any plans that involved his exclusion. “But now he has to show that he can deliver,” said a government leader while reacting to the worsening situation in the Valley. The government here fears that the shoe hurling incident will be used by anti-India elements to claim that even the state’s own security forces have no faith in the Abdullah dispensation. In any case, Pakistan has been maintaining that the stone-pelting incidents are a manifestation of the lack of confidence in the Indian leadership to tackle the Kashmir issue. The Centre, which acknowledges that it is confronted with a difficult situation in the Valley, however, is clear that no concessions should be given to stone-pelters and their handlers. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday reiterated that the government will only talk to groups that abjure violence. “We are ready to talk to every person or group which abjures violence,” Mr Singh said while addressing the nation of the Independence Day. “The years of violence should now end. Such violence would not benefit anyone,” Mr Singh said. Underlining that Kashmir is an integral part of India, Mr Singh said that “within this framework, we are ready to move forward in any talks which would increase the partnership of the common man in governance and also enhance their welfare.”


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