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A lesson in responsibility?

It was on the spur of the moment that Omar Abdullah, the youngest Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, decided to cut short his six-year-term in the seventh month of his governance on an emotional note, writes Arun Joshi.

india Updated: Jul 29, 2009 00:51 IST
Arun Joshi

It was on the spur of the moment that Omar Abdullah, the youngest Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, decided to cut short his six-year-term in the seventh month of his governance on an emotional note. By doing so he plunged the state government into suspended animation — the first of its kind in the circumstances that unfolded on Tuesday.

Omar’s emotional decision came at a time when his government was coming to grips with the Shopian case — the rape and murder of two women — that had been rocking the Valley since May-end.

Constitutional experts, including the man who charged Omar with involvement in the sex scam of 2006 — People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader and former deputy CM Muzaffar Hussain Beigh — said the CM need not have quit. “It is not obligatory for the CM to resign if an allegation is leveled against him in the House,” said Zafar Shah, a constitutional expert in the state.

Zafar felt that Omar sought to “introduce a sense of responsibility by quitting after the charge was leveled against him. He wanted to show that he takes things seriously and to make those leveling such charges accountable.”

Even though his seven-month record as CM was questioned, the sentiment on the streets of the state after his resignation was that of shock and surprise.

“He should not have quit. He should have faced these charges. He is not that type (morally profligate),” said Jammu shopkeeper Jagdev Sharma (48).

Reports emanating from CBI sources said Omar’s name does not figure in the list of tainted politicians, bureaucrats and police officers.

Given the numbers the National Conference and its allies, including the Congress, have in the assembly — 46 out of 87 — the government faces no threat. This is particularly so as the alliance partners have reaffirmed their faith in his leadership, Omar’s return as chief minister is certain. And he would have the advantage of the high moral ground.