Vows, Woes and Verdicts

With PDP’s first list of candidates out rival NC is on its toes again. Is it PDP’s over confidence or master stroke only time will tell? Shah Abbas analyzes

National-Conference-CWC
One of the NC CWC meet in progress in Srinagar.

With Assembly elections still six months away, the unionist parties have started finalising the list of their candidates probably to put ‘pressurise’ on each other. It was again the principal opposition party PDP which took the lead and announced the names of 25 candidates in its first list.

Analysts believe that it was the party’s ‘deliberate’ and ‘calculated’ move to ‘frustrate’ the ruling National Conference which is still busy in brainstorming sessions to find the reasons of its recent poll debacle at the hands of PDP in the valley. “The PDP is working so confidently that it has kept the ruling party engaged on its own will,” said a political commentator, but, he added, “The overconfidence proves very costly at times.”

Facing the political heat after the party’s clean sweep in parliamentary polls, a senior NC worker says that his party had no intention about selecting its candidates as a lot of time was still left for the job. “But yes,” he says, “the last time we met, PDP’s first list of Assembly candidates dominated over the party meeting.” A party insider said, “This is how the experienced Mufti Mohammad Sayeed works and engages his rivals.”

Though PDP released its first tentative list of 25 candidates for the upcoming elections, but it is tight-lipped over some ‘hot belts’. The party is yet to decide about the new faces like the erstwhile J&K Bank CEO & Chairman and Valley’s known economist, Dr Haseeb Drabu.

At a time when NC was to overcome its internal problems and decide to weave a policy to woo the voters, it has been compelled to think over the election candidates. Now, the party has decided to announce its first list in the coming days, but it is yet to decide about the constituency with its additional president and the chief minister Omar Abdullah and the party chief Dr Farooq Abdullah.

But NC which has reportedly sorted out its internal drift by including party’s angry leader Dr Mehboob Baig in a committee which has been assigned to frame the election manifesto. The committee includes another annoyed party leader Ghulam Nabi Shaheen and is headed by the party’s experienced hand and Dr Farooq’s darling Mohammad Shafi Uri.

The decision to this effect was taken last Thursday in which not only Dr Baig but Abdul Rahim Rather also participated exhibiting that the party leaders have nothing against each other. It is pertinent to mention that Dr Baig had levelled serious allegations of nepotism on Rather after which both of them were skipping the party meetings.

The resolution passed in the meeting urged India and Pakistan to resolve the ‘burning issue’ of Kashmir by taking all stakeholders on board. This statement of the party has made political commentators think: NC has started its ‘gimmicks’ just before the elections.

However, NC too has started offensive against its rival by alleging PDP of promoting ‘known criminal and corrupt faces’. Without naming anybody, NC’s foot-in-mouth Additional General Secretary Dr Mustafa Kamal recently asked Mufti to come clean on substantiated allegations of corruption and grave criminal records against various senior PDP leaders who are masquerading as “new faces” in the party.

Kamal lashed out at the PDP for “picking and choosing dreaded former counter-insurgents across the Valley to constitute a team of infamous, criminal faces that the party intends to use to harass the people ahead of the forthcoming polls.” He said, PDP leaders had serious cases of graft, tax-evasion, land-grabbing and embezzlement of public money registered against them in the courts of the land, those faces that were openly pronounced corrupt by PDP in the past miraculously became honest overnight the very moment they joined PDP.

“The most glaring example was that of a former bureaucrat from the State who was sacked by Mufti government on charges of corruption in the Panchayat Ghar Scam in 2005 but was later rewarded with an MLC berth by the same Mufti Mohammad Sayeed when the said person joined PDP,” Dr Kamal said.

Kamal further alleged that PDP was now being supported by some recently retired, ‘dreaded and notorious’ police officers who flouted all norms and policies of leniency announced by the State Government and suppressed the youth of Srinagar on their own whims and arrogance.

Amid all this, NC’s working president and chief minister of state Omar Abdullah has started talking big. “NC would give PDP a fight to remember and defeat it in the forthcoming assembly elections,” he said recently during NC’s Central Working Committee (CWC) meeting. Apart from vowing to ‘taste PDP dust’, Omar quite interestingly stated that his party would appeal to the government to grant general amnesty to the youth involved in stone pelting incidents. “It is hilarious,” says one political observer. “It seems chief minister is going to request himself only for granting amnesty to youth arrested on charges of stone pelting.”

While the preparations for the Assembly polls are in full gear, the defeat in recently concluded parliamentary polls is still playing the minds of the ruling regime. “NC has too glorious a history and too proud a legacy for its spirits to be dampened by one electoral result,” Omar told his party cadres recently. “It was important to take lessons from defeat and make ourselves stronger, better and more resolute in our mission,” he added.

The Omar lead cabinet also constituted a one man commission headed by retired justice ML Koul to probe the 2010 killings. This act too is termed by the commentators as ‘gimmick’ only to woo the voters. “What is the credibility of the commission which has to work under the same government responsible for the killings,” separatist leader Nayeem ahmad Khan told Kashmir Life. Worth to mention the commission head retired Justice ML Koul, was assigned the probe into the Gagren Shopian killings in September 2013, the report of which is still awaited.

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