iconimg Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Tarun Upadhyay , Hindustan Times
Jammu, November 04, 2012
Six months after terming the annual darbar move an escapist move, chief minister Omar Abdullah on Monday will formally declare the darbar open in Jammu - the winter capital of the state.
The civil secretariat will start functioning from Jammu from Monday. And with it, the city will be home of the chief minister, his colleagues, bureaucrats and police officials after it was closed in last week of October in Srinagar.

The practice of darbar move started about 140 years ago by then late Maharaja Partap Singh.

Just days before the shifting of the darbar to Srinagar in April, texting on Twitter - the micro-blogging site - Omar had tweeted: "Do I think the 'darbar move' (shifting of capital) is a waste of money? Yes I do. Is there an alternative? I haven't seen a viable alternative suggested."

Every year, the state secretariat with 7,000 employees moves to Srinagar in summer and to Jammu in winters and it costs about Rs. 40 crore to the exchequer. 

The tweet had not only evoked strong response - from either side of political spectrum- but much has changed for Omar himself after this.

"I agree. We run away when people need us the most and (they) face the most difficulty. The darbar move is escapist," Omar had tweeted in the next tweet.

The People's Democratic Party (PDP) - the principal opposition of the state- had out rightly rejected any such move to stop this about 150-year-old practice.

"It's the only thing (darbar move) which acts as the binding factor between Jammu and Srinagar divisions, which are at political extreme to each other and shouldn't be stopped. Even if it costs a few crores of rupees that doesn't merit much in large political landscape of the state," PDP spokesperson Nayeem Akhtar had then retorted.

The National Conference had in the past attempted to stop this practice. In early '80s, then chief minister Dr Farooq Abdullah - father of Omar Abdullah - had attempted such a move but was forced to take it back after strong reactions and long bandh in Jammu.

Just before the opening of darbar in Jammu, Omar had to cancel the elections of the block development councils - to which he had earlier said "it would be held at any cost" and has also stopped frequently tweeting.

Omar, probably the only chief minister active on Twitter, is being followed by 1.50 lakh people there.