Omar hits election mode, offers sops, expands Cabinet
By Tabish Naseer - SRI NAGAR
Published: 20th Jan 2013 07:47:26 AM
The ruling National Conference (NC), headed by Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, has gone into the election mode. With an eye on 2014 state Assembly elections, Omar promised to roll out over 8,000 government jobs for the youth in the coming days, and relieved his most-trusted aides to take over control of the party after the much-awaited Cabinet expansion.
But, the developments since the expansion indicate that the expansion may create more problems for the NC. Speaking on the occasion of the fourth anniversary of his six-year term, Omar promised to fill around 80,000 jobs in the next few months. The chief minister, who was speaking to the panchayat members, also promised stipend and other emoluments to Panchs and Sarpanchs, even if the Union government did not accept his proposal.
He said that another deficiency of the government was corruption. “We don’t have 2G and 3G scandals here. But the fact remains that people are forced to bribe for small matters like passports and driving licences. Now that we have Public Services Guarantee Act, we hope corruption will reduce to a great extent,” said Omar. In a state that is grappling with corruption and where unemployment is epidemic, the announcements clearly reflect that the ruling party has gone into election mode, with a series of populist measures, says a political analyst.
On consolidating the party in the state, Omar relieved many of his trusted men to counter the principle Opposition, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Seven new faces from the NC were inducted into the ministry after his political advisor Devinder Rana and six ministers, including his close aide Nasir Aslam Wani—who was holding five portfolios, resigned on Monday. Rana, and Nasir—the two close aides of Omar, were made provincial presidents of the NC for Jammu and Kashmir divisions, respectively.
But for the party, the cabinet expansion has brought trouble, particularly where its fortunes have already dwindled. In protest against exclusion of former CAPD minister Qamar Ali Akhoon from the Cabinet, the Kargil District Working Committee of NC under the leadership of its President Ghulam Hassan Khan sent its resignation letter to the party high command on Saturday, sources said.
But along with the Cabinet expansion and the announcement of job package, the NC has also refreshed the old ploy of hitting out at New Delhi for the Kashmir mess and also accused the PDP of being an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Terming “deception” on part of New Delhi as the reason behind people having lost faith in democracy, NC General Secretary Sheikh Nazir Ahmad said that autonomy is the only solution to the Kashmir issue. Another senior NC leader and Rural Development Minister, Ali Mohammad Sagar, said that no compromise is possible over autonomy, while Shamima Firdous, a key woman leader of the party, termed autonomy as the birth right of people of state.
At the same time the party is not sparing the PDP. Party spokesman Tanvir Sadiq said, “They have communalised the politics of Kashmir."