BY ZAHOOR MALIK
Srinagar: His friends used to feel envy and opponents jealous of his luck in politics as they felt he was easily getting everything on a silver platter without really working hard.
But now the National Conference (NC) president, Dr Farooq Abdullah, is trying hard for the survival of his party amid an increasingly uncertain and difficult political atmosphere for them.
Even at this age and not being well for the last several years, the veteran politician visits different corners of Jammu and Kashmir to meet party workers and keep their morale high.
Despite having serious differences with Dr Abdullah on various important issues, the party leaders in Centre do acknowledge his influence in the past on people of all the regions and all religions of the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state.
When Dr Abdullah was admitted in SKIMS here for COVID related treatment, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha himself paid a visit and met Omar Abdullah there. Sinha offered to take the NC president to any other hospital outside for treatment if his family wished. Since Dr Abdullah was responding to the treatment at SKIMS, Omar thanked Lieutenant Governor and said his father was getting the required best treatment here.
BJP leaders have not been keeping their intentions secret to form the next government in Jammu and Kashmir and have their own chief minister. From J&K BJP president Ravinder Raina to his central party leaders, all have been saying this and working in this direction as well. This has put a lot of pressure on Dr Farooq Abdullah, who is heading the only grass roots level and oldest regional party in Jammu and Kashmir. The investigations in the alleged scandal in J&K Cricket Association and follow up actions have created an uncomfortable situation for him at personal and political levels.
Most leaders in NC believe that people, particularly the party supporters, connect with Dr Abdullah more easily than any other leader. Even the NC president himself realises this and prefers visiting different areas to meet the people.
Dr Abdullah is expected to resume his visits once the ongoing Covid wave and Winter is over.
After the collapse of PDP-BJP government in Jammu and Kashmir, the NC leadership was very much hopeful of forming the next government after the assembly polls. But they had no idea as to what was in store. The Central Government took everybody by surprise by uprooting Article 370 and by other measures since then. The moves completely changed the political scenario and are re-shaping the electoral politics as well. NC is not yet sure what more is in store. With every new move things are getting difficult for them. The delay in assembly polls has hit NC the most since it was expecting to take political mileage out of the formation of PDP-BJP government in Jammu and Kashmir, its fall and consequent effects.
Even as the party is on the same page on some issues with its main opponent PDP right now, some of NC leaders have an inner feeling that delay in polls may give some advantage to PDP at their cost. PDP has been getting enough time to take a complete U- turn and toughen its stance to grab if not all but some of the lost political space. But there are others who believe that it is really difficult for PDP to achieve anything , whatever tactics it may try. For PDP president Mehbooba Mufti things are not that easy in absence of senior party leaders, who were political strength of her father, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, and who have now formed a new political party or joined other parties.
It is a political compulsion right now for Dr Farooq Abdullah to be friendly for time being with PDP, which since 2002 ended the supremacy of his party on the political map of Kashmir and provided to people an alternative.
Dr Abdullah knows that being in power or part of the power in any form after the next assembly polls is very important for the future or survival of NC. That is why he is trying hard. But challenges and difficulties are also increasing for him and his party with every passing day.