Chief Minister Omar Abdullah turned 43 today. Born on March 10, 1970 in Rochford, Essex, United Kingdom, Omar is scion of Kashmiri’s most influential and oldest political family. Omar studied at the Burn Hall School, Srinagar and then at Lawrence School, Sonawar. He is an alumnus of Sydenham College, Mumbai (where he did his Hotel management degree). After that he joined the University of Strathclyde, Scotland, for MBA, although he did not complete it.
He married Payal Nath, daughter of an Army officer, Major General Ram Nath from Delhi on September1,1994, and before separation the couple had two sons, Zahir and Zamir.
Omar joined politics in 1998, as a Lok Sabha member, a feat he repeated in subsequent three elections. He served as a Union minister of state for external affairs in NDA government from July 23, 2001 to December 23, 2002.
Omar took on the mantle of National Conference from his father Dr Farooq Abdullah, on June 23, 2002, and resigned from NDA government in October 2002 to concentrate on party work.
Interestingly, his mother Mollie, an English woman and nurse by profession, was not in favour of him joining politics.
After taking the reins of his party, Omar lost his own seat of Ganderbal in 2002, the otherwise bastion of National Conference. He was re-elected as NC president in 2006.
Omar later contested again for Ganderbal in 2008. This time he emerged as a winning candidate. His party as well emerged to have political mandate and along with congress, formed a coalition government.
This time, unlike arrangement with PDP, Omar was asked to continue for 6 years as head of the government and Omar became 11th and youngest Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir.
Omar had a tough time while being on the hot seat. Consecutive summer unrest’s, Afzal Guru hanging and aftermath. In 2009 Omar was caught at wrong foot when he was exposed to political uncertainty. He was accused of covering up the rape and murder of two young women in Shopian, which was allegedly perpetrated by government forces. Many regarded this as Omar’s first failure, as political commentator A G Noorani writes, “Abdullah “needed prodding by the Centre even to order registration of a First Information Report…. this testifies the gravity of Omar Abdullah’s lapses… (and) reveals the mindset that he will follow the tradition firmly established by his father.”
Omar is tech savvy, unlike his predecessors. He flashes his feelings on twitter when he finds it difficult to speak through other media.
Omar sometimes called as ‘angry young man’ made attempts to resign from his chair, but never did so. Recently in state legislative assembly Omar spoke his heart out. A mix of anger and helplessness, Omar cried.
Omar was accused of signing the death warrant of Afzal Guru which he strongly rejected. Whatever, the opposition alleges that if it would have been Ghulam Nabi Azad or Mufti Muhammad Sayeed in chair, Afzal would have been saved.
When Omar assumed charge, he was seen different and a hope of change. But after four years, Omar is not different to the lot. He lost the record of being youngest chief minister to Uttar Pradesh’s Akhilesh Yadav.
Omar has two more years to go to complete the current tenure. He revamped the party by inducting his two close aides at the helm of party affairs and apparently keeping away senior fellows. It is to be Seen, would he be able to regain Kashmir, which is inching away from him.