Omar Abdullah - Hopes dashed by LS rout, washed out by floods

By Himanshu Kapoor | Last Updated: Nov 21, 2014, 21:24 PM IST

While BJP's 'Mission 44' seems like a distant dream in the upcoming Assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir, it won't be a cakewalk for National Conference leader Omar Abdullah either.

Born in 1970 in the UK, Abdullah became the youngest chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir. He had earlier served as a union minister of state for external affairs in Atal Bihari Vajpayee's NDA government.

After assuming office, Omar tried in earnest to turn around the fortunes of the states and push towards the path of development.

He also worked towards resolving the Kashmir dispute, as was emphasised during his meeting with the then Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf in 2006. It was the first meeting between a mainstream Kashmiri politician and a Pakistani head on the Kashmir issue.

However, Omar was also accused of lacking charisma and adopting a hands-off approach to governance. His detractors have dubbed him a failure in meeting the aspirations of the people of Kashmir.

The road ahead for the Abdullah scion is not going to be easy despite his setting up of two committees to review the AFSPA and his efforts on the development front.

Also, Omar has abandoned his 'dynastic' Ganderbal constituency, a bastion for the Abdullahs since 1977. From Sheikh Abdullah to Farooq Abdullah and then Omar, Ganderbal has been at the fulcrum of NC's politics.

Though he did once face defeat in Gandebal, Omar's decision to abandon the seat this year indicates that even Omar senses that writing is on the wall as far as his party's fortunes are concerned.

Secondly, the wipe out in Lok Sabha polls - first since 1997 – is also something that is adding to Omar's worry.

Omar's hopes of retaining power were further dashed by the angst in the people of the people over the rehabilitation carried out by the state government post floods. Both the chief minister and his party faced public wrath over non-performance and Omar's failure to respond to the floods and the devastation caused.

Decline in Omar's fortunes can also be seen as directly proportional to the rise of PDP. In the 2002 Assembly election, the PDP got a vote share of 9 percent, which increased to 15 percent in the 2008 election.

Omar has limited options, and he knows that.