Surviving as effective opposition in politics for any political party needs great ingenuity, imagination, craft and foresightedness. If one looks at the role played by the National Conference after it lost power in 2002 election, it has not shown any of these qualities. The role played by this one of the oldest surviving political organization in the state as opposition both inside and outside the legislature has been dismal and disappointing. Not to speak of its top leadership even the Members of Legislature Assembly of this organization except one or two have not bothered to visit their constituencies. Not to speak about raising issues of their constituencies there have also been reports about misappropriation of the constituency development funds by these members.
The party suffered rudest ever shock after it was thrown out of power by a leadership that it believed was of no reckoning in Kashmir politics and in its wildest of imagination it had not thought that a person who had failed to win an electoral battle against the party during past thirty years could have thrown it out of the coveted place of power. There can be no denying that the National Conference was a grassrooted political party with a very strong rural base but what harmed this political party besides it failing to represent peoples sentiments was failure to live up to political commitments it made in all elections held in the state after 1977. Instead of pursuing pro-people policies the organization lived in the make believe world that it could forever survive in the reflected glory of its founder leaders. The organization when in power failed at the people's litmus test of standing by the side of Kashmiris; instead it was interested in addressing the power galleries in the capital. It in fact joined hands with hawks in New Delhi and added to the agonies of Kashmiris. Track record of this party when in power on human rights violation and abuse of power is no better than its predecessors and successors in office. Playing in the hands of a few bureaucrats with genteel demeanor – to whom Chief Minister had virtually surrendered his power, the interests of states one after another were sacrificed at the alter of perpetuating in power. What has been tragic about this party that its leadership continues to be captive of past and does not understand that much water has flown down the Jhelum since 1931, when this party was the people's party. It needs to understand that it does not have that Messianic image that it had when it waged a struggle against the autocratic rule; it further needs to understand that role it once had has been assigned by common Kashmiri to different set of leadership. Another factor that has almost made this party a lesser force in the power polity is 'to be and not to be in politics' syndrome from which party leader has been suffering since debacle in the 2002 elections.
Notwithstanding its role having minimized in the changed political scene in the state but being largest opposition party in the legislature, it still has a role to play in local governance. As an effective opposition it could be catalytic in improving quality of governance in the state. It was good of party leader Dr. Farooq Abdullah to have come out of hibernation and raise some issues of public interests in a public meeting at Uri. The story about the relief and rehabilitation of October 8, 2005 earthquake victims is dotted with many ifs and buts. There have been reports about large scale bungling in relief distribution and lot of corruption in the disbursement of cheques. If one looks at Dr. Abdullah's speech minus its rhetoric, it provides many moot points for New Delhi – if it really wants to see a change on ground level and set a mood for positive dialogue in Kashmir.