Today ‘s polling in north Kashmir will decide fate of Abdullah family in Kashmir politics

Prameyanews English

Published By : Prameya News Bureau | May 20, 2024 IST

Omar , who by many is reckoned as “ Last Abdullah” in Kashmir politics , is up against a fierce battle where his rivals in Baramulla constituency call him “ tourist” implying that he is an outsider  for he had never been part of Baramulla constituency during Lok Sabha or Assembly polls before this electoral battle

Arun Joshi

Today – May 20, 2024-  when the polling for the fifth phase in  north Kashmir’s Baramulla constituency is underway , Kashmir politics can  make or mar  the prospects of the Abdullah dynasty . The Abdullah family’s   scion  and former chief minister Omar Abdullah is testing waters in the constituency where he had not ventured ever before in the electoral battle since he entered  Kashmir’s political arena with his  successful bid in 1998 Lok Sabha polls.

Omar , who by many is reckoned as “ Last Abdullah” in Kashmir politics , is up against a fierce battle where his rivals in Baramulla constituency call him “ tourist” implying that he is an outsider  for he had never been part of Baramulla constituency during Lok Sabha or Assembly polls before this electoral battle . He is pitched against Sajad   Gani Lone of People’s Conference , and Engineer Rashid  of   Awami  Iteehad  Party . Both Lone and Engineer Rashid are natives of Kupwara district , which is part of   Baramulla constituency . There are 21 other candidates in the constituency which is having over 17 lakh voters , but the real contest is among  Omar, Sajad and Engineer Rashid .

If Omar wins this poll from Baramulla , it would be reaffirmation of the domination   of his party and family in the politics , any other result will put a big question mark on his political career , and also that of his father Farooq Abdullah who is 88 . This Lok Sabha poll is   seen as a preview of the Assembly polls in J&K, which as per Supreme Court directions are to be held by September 30th this year. Omar has declared that he won’t contest Assembly polls until the time J&K is a Union Territory. So , his next tryst with electoral politics  if he fails to make the mark , will be in 2029 . That is a big gap.

Ironically he is contesting this election on the same theme as his rivals- to speak for the dignity of the people of Kashmir which they allege has been mauled by   August 5, 2019 decision of scrapping Article 370 . Omar, in his speeches , and polling eve appeal has sought to project himself as a  leader who has the capacity and capability of becoming voice of the people in the Parliament . He has been three-time MP, and also minister of state for external affairs . He knows dynamics of the national politics like his father , but till date he has not been able to  match his father’s stature as face and voice of Kashmir.

Abdullah family in Kashmir politics is like Patnaik family in Odisha , Badal’s in Punjab , Pawar’s in Maharashtra,  Yadav’s in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh . They have seen many ups and downs but stayed afloat in the political mainstream . This time , however, it is different . Omar is not up against his rivals  only but also   against BJP’s anti-dynastic politics . Prime Minister Narendra Modi , Home Minister Amit Shah and others have   urged voters to vote for anyone- BJP is not in the contest- but warned against voting for National Conference , and PDP of Muftis.. The fate of Mehbooba Mufti will be decided on May 25 when the constituency Anantnag that she is contesting from  will go to polls , but today’s it is question of Abdullah family .

The Abdullah family and their party National Conference , beginning with  its founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah since 1930s has been quintessential;  part of Kashmir politics . But over the years , especially after the  abrogation of Article 370  in August 2019 , the party and the Abdullah family has been facing existential threat . This threat looms over Omar Abdullah, who is seeking entry into Lok Sabha from Baramulla constituency ,  abandoning family bastion Srinagar parliamentary  constituency. Omar too had won  from Srinagar seat for three times- 1998, 1999 and 2004.

Abdullah family  which was once at its peak in Kashmir politics  when Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah led agitation against  Dogra rule in 1930s and 1940s  and till he became the first prime minister of Jammu and Kashmir in 1948.  Sheikh Abdullah who is reckoned  till date as “ tallest leader of Kashmir”,  rose in popularity  when he   abolished the big estates and distributed the land to croppers . this measure known as land to tiller made his popularity swing high among the tillers , though it did annoy a large sections of Hindu, Kashmiri Pandit   landlords. But he fell out of grace of Government of India in 1953 when  he was suspected of   conspiring against the state of India . His National Conference was converted into Plebiscite Front that is traced as the route of secessionism and   subsequent terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir . his popularity stayed intact even when he made a compromise for power – he returned  to the Indian mainstream per se    as chief   minister  in February 1975 . He stayed as Chief Minister till his death on September 1982 . His son Farooq Abdullah took over , but he could not match up to the standards and  leadership stature of his father .Farooq and NC suffered a jolt – they were targeted during peak of militancy because they were considered pro-India , whereas the Indian leadership blamed NC for  triggering militancy through the rigged elections of 1987 . NC got a new lease of life in 1996 when it won Assembly polls with a he majority , but it failed to maintain tempo in 2002. It had to wait till 2008 to come  back to power  in alliance with Congress. That government lasted till  2014 and in the Assembly polls held that year brought down party’s  tally to lowest ever 15 seats. In 2019 , it did win in low-voting Lok Sabha polls , but now that is on test now .

Arun Joshi is author of “Eyewitness Kashmir; Teetering on Nuclear War and senior journalist based in Jammu and Kashmir, writes on South Asian affairs)

Disclaimer: This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write-up have nothing to do with www.prameyanews.com.

 


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Omar , who by many is reckoned as “ Last Abdullah” in Kashmir politics , is up against a fierce battle where his rivals in Baramulla constituency call him “ tourist” implying that he is an outsider  for he had never been part of Baramulla constituency during Lok Sabha or Assembly polls before this electoral battle
Omar , who by many is reckoned as “ Last Abdullah” in Kashmir politics , is up against a fierce battle where his rivals in Baramulla constituency call him “ tourist” implying that he is an outsider  for he had never been part of Baramulla constituency during Lok Sabha or Assembly polls before this electoral battle
Omar , who by many is reckoned as “ Last Abdullah” in Kashmir politics , is up against a fierce battle where his rivals in Baramulla constituency call him “ tourist” implying that he is an outsider  for he had never been part of Baramulla constituency during Lok Sabha or Assembly polls before this electoral battle
Omar , who by many is reckoned as “ Last Abdullah” in Kashmir politics , is up against a fierce battle where his rivals in Baramulla constituency call him “ tourist” implying that he is an outsider  for he had never been part of Baramulla constituency during Lok Sabha or Assembly polls before this electoral battle
Omar , who by many is reckoned as “ Last Abdullah” in Kashmir politics , is up against a fierce battle where his rivals in Baramulla constituency call him “ tourist” implying that he is an outsider  for he had never been part of Baramulla constituency during Lok Sabha or Assembly polls before this electoral battle
Omar , who by many is reckoned as “ Last Abdullah” in Kashmir politics , is up against a fierce battle where his rivals in Baramulla constituency call him “ tourist” implying that he is an outsider  for he had never been part of Baramulla constituency during Lok Sabha or Assembly polls before this electoral battle
Omar , who by many is reckoned as “ Last Abdullah” in Kashmir politics , is up against a fierce battle where his rivals in Baramulla constituency call him “ tourist” implying that he is an outsider  for he had never been part of Baramulla constituency during Lok Sabha or Assembly polls before this electoral battle
Omar , who by many is reckoned as “ Last Abdullah” in Kashmir politics , is up against a fierce battle where his rivals in Baramulla constituency call him “ tourist” implying that he is an outsider  for he had never been part of Baramulla constituency during Lok Sabha or Assembly polls before this electoral battle
Omar , who by many is reckoned as “ Last Abdullah” in Kashmir politics , is up against a fierce battle where his rivals in Baramulla constituency call him “ tourist” implying that he is an outsider  for he had never been part of Baramulla constituency during Lok Sabha or Assembly polls before this electoral battle
Omar , who by many is reckoned as “ Last Abdullah” in Kashmir politics , is up against a fierce battle where his rivals in Baramulla constituency call him “ tourist” implying that he is an outsider  for he had never been part of Baramulla constituency during Lok Sabha or Assembly polls before this electoral battle
Omar , who by many is reckoned as “ Last Abdullah” in Kashmir politics , is up against a fierce battle where his rivals in Baramulla constituency call him “ tourist” implying that he is an outsider  for he had never been part of Baramulla constituency during Lok Sabha or Assembly polls before this electoral battle
Omar , who by many is reckoned as “ Last Abdullah” in Kashmir politics , is up against a fierce battle where his rivals in Baramulla constituency call him “ tourist” implying that he is an outsider  for he had never been part of Baramulla constituency during Lok Sabha or Assembly polls before this electoral battle
Omar , who by many is reckoned as “ Last Abdullah” in Kashmir politics , is up against a fierce battle where his rivals in Baramulla constituency call him “ tourist” implying that he is an outsider  for he had never been part of Baramulla constituency during Lok Sabha or Assembly polls before this electoral battle
Omar , who by many is reckoned as “ Last Abdullah” in Kashmir politics , is up against a fierce battle where his rivals in Baramulla constituency call him “ tourist” implying that he is an outsider  for he had never been part of Baramulla constituency during Lok Sabha or Assembly polls before this electoral battle
Omar , who by many is reckoned as “ Last Abdullah” in Kashmir politics , is up against a fierce battle where his rivals in Baramulla constituency call him “ tourist” implying that he is an outsider  for he had never been part of Baramulla constituency during Lok Sabha or Assembly polls before this electoral battle
Omar , who by many is reckoned as “ Last Abdullah” in Kashmir politics , is up against a fierce battle where his rivals in Baramulla constituency call him “ tourist” implying that he is an outsider  for he had never been part of Baramulla constituency during Lok Sabha or Assembly polls before this electoral battle
Omar , who by many is reckoned as “ Last Abdullah” in Kashmir politics , is up against a fierce battle where his rivals in Baramulla constituency call him “ tourist” implying that he is an outsider  for he had never been part of Baramulla constituency during Lok Sabha or Assembly polls before this electoral battle
Omar , who by many is reckoned as “ Last Abdullah” in Kashmir politics , is up against a fierce battle where his rivals in Baramulla constituency call him “ tourist” implying that he is an outsider  for he had never been part of Baramulla constituency during Lok Sabha or Assembly polls before this electoral battle
Omar , who by many is reckoned as “ Last Abdullah” in Kashmir politics , is up against a fierce battle where his rivals in Baramulla constituency call him “ tourist” implying that he is an outsider  for he had never been part of Baramulla constituency during Lok Sabha or Assembly polls before this electoral battle

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