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HindustanTimes Sun,28 Dec 2014

Testing times ahead for Omar

Tarun Upadhyay , Hindustan Times  Jammu, February 11, 2013
First Published: 12:58 IST(11/2/2013) | Last Updated: 12:59 IST(11/2/2013)

Two days before the hanging of Afzal Guru, chief minister Omar Abdullah had sensed its political fallout.

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"We will not go for pre-poll alliance," said Omar in an interaction with reporters on his visit to Khwaja Moinuddin Chisty at Ajmer.

Omar had visited the revered shrine along with his father union minister Dr Farooq Abdullah on Friday, after a long gap.

It was a U-turn from the person who had all along, especially for the last one year, had been saying that Congress and the National Conference were natural allies and had gone to the extent of saying that Abdullahs' and Gandhi family share a personal bonding.

The chief minister knowing that hanging was to take place anytime, though he had expressed reservations about it, had done his political calculations.

The chief minister who was after 2010 violent summer had positioned himself in relatively safer position with peace and growing local economy on account of record tourist inflow, was trying to ward off political reverses in the next assembly elections by cosying up with the Congress.

But from now on it will not be politically same to be on the same page with the Congress.
And it's for this reason, in an interview with a private news channel, he had said: "…You (Centre) will have to prove to the world that the death penalty is not used selectively. The onus rests on the judiciary and the political leadership to show that this wasn't a selective execution."

In the same interview, he had said though he would not threaten or criticise the UPA government or express his views on meeting them but not through media.

Kashmir has been the traditional political bastion of the National Conference, though it's space has been dented off late by the PDP. In the last assembly elections, NC had secured 22 out 28 seats from the Kashmir region.

The main fear of the Omar stems from the fact he would be targetted politically by the PDP and an attempt to whip up anti-India feelings by separatists would only play into the hands of PDP.

"Omar knows that now the PDP will target him for killings of Kashmiri in the manner NC had blamed Mufti Sayeed for bringing in then Governor Jagmohan and had held accountable for the death of 'innocent' Kashmiris in the hey days of militancy," said a senior NC leader, wishing not to be named.

The chief minister from now on will not find it politically safe to share a dias with Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, with whom he enjoys personal equations.

"His personal relation with Rahul Gandhi was standing between us and a possible post-poll alliance with the Congress. Though we may not like to have an alliance from now on but things would not be safe even for Omar now," said PDP leader, wishing not to be named.

In the last 48 hours, Omar Abdullah had tried get hold of the situation to ensure the spiral of violence doesn't start.  He has been successful till now, and if he succeeds in ensuring peace for longer period, it could reverse his political fortunes, and ease him personally also from the tension.

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