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Road ahead for J&K's youngest chief minister

Source: PTI
January 03, 2009 11:07 IST
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Young National Conference Chief Omar Abdullah, who is set to don the mantle of chief minister on Monday, has a difficult road ahead with terrorism as well as growing regional and urban-rural divide in Jammu and Kashmir certain to be high on his agenda.

Omar, the third generation Abdullah family member and youngest chief minister of the border state, also faces high expectations of people besides having to deal with a strong opposition in People's Democratic Party and Bharatiya Janata Party.

The 38-year-old leader is perhaps the first chief minister who will have to grapple with an alarming rise in regional divide in the state since Independence. No other government head including his father Farooq Abdullah and grand father Sheikh Abdullah had faced such a dicey situation, say political analysts.

"There was no regional divide between Jammu and Kashmir regions as it is today as reflected in the poll results. Omar is first CM of Jammu and Kashmir to face this challenge," a member of National Knowledge Commission (NKC) and former vice chancellor of Jammu University, Prof Amitabh Mattoo said.

Electoral results have shown a huge divide between the regions due to polarisation in the wake of the two-month Amarnath yatra land controversy. Divisive politics also divided south and central Kashmir on city (NC) versus village (PDP) lines, analysts said.

BJP, which had won just one seat in 2002 in Nagrota in Jammu district was second in 5 constituencies, put up a stunning show winning 11 seats and was second in 13 segments.

In 1996, BJP had won 8 seats in the Jammu region. PDP held sway over rural voters and swept south Kashmir, bagging 12 out of 16 seats in Anantnag, Kulgam, Shopian and Pulwama districts.

With its base in Srinagar, the state's summer capital, NC swept 13 out of 15 seats in central Kashmir reflecting a divide between urban and rural voters on party lines.

NC had only 8 seats in 2002 out of 15 while 4 were bagged by PDP and 3 by independents in 2002 elections as urban voters voted for NC in Srinagar city giving it 8 seats.

"Omar has first to integrate the state and end these divides created by the politicians during Amarnath land row. Jammu and Kashmir is highly polarised today," head of department of school of management science, Jammu University, Dr Keshiv Sharma said.

Omar has to take along all the three regions, end regional discrimination in Jammu and Ladakh and face a strong opposition of BJP and PDP, Dr Sharma said.

"Omar has challenges not only on the political front in terms of addressing separatists but also to ensure people-to-people contact to make the state socially cohesive and ensure economic uplift and development on economic front," Prof Mattoo said.

"We have high hopes of Omar. He is one among us and thinks like generation-X. The buzzword for him should be end era of unemployment. He should undertake massive multi-sector infrastructure development in order to take Jammu and Kashmir out of the web of militancy and uncertainty," Jammu University MBA student, Vimal Choudary said.

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