Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Omar: you don't hang boots in six months

We have had a lot of rulers in Kashmir – stupid, passionate, dimwits, charlatans and the like. Omar is by far the youngest and the most poignant. I must have come down heavy on him in some of my commentaries but that is mostly to do with a journalist’s prerogative to act as a societal/political watch hound. I have no qualms in saying that despite his many imperfections, the boy has his heart in the right place.

I know he fumbled many times -- in handling the Shopian episode, in getting the separatist leadership arrested and the like. He even exposed his lack of political correctedness on a few occasions when he prejudged things and stepped on gas, issues he could have very well skirted. Some ugly things happened under his watch. However to his credit he has been brutally honest in owing up to most of it.

Kashmir is never an easy fief to administer. There is a perpetual squeeze from Delhi. That lug from the centre is oft times too hard to withstand [journalists know that better than the laity]. Top of it a million mutinies are always brewing in the valley. Everything is a tinder box. A crime, a mere charge, a rumor. Doing a balancing act isn’t exactly easy.

I think leveling charges of Omar's involvement in the sex scandal -- by the opposition PDP -- was plain shallow. Muzzafar beg is a smart fellow, who took his Harvard law lessons seriously and along with Mehbooba makes quite a gang. Since Omar is essentially a well meaning guy, and doing reasonably well, these guys plotted his downfall. Hence a counterfeit charge.

So Omar, taking the bait and real hurt, gave an impassionate statement on the floor of the house -- to announce his resignation. People may call it histrionic but Omar is not Farooq Abdullah. His diatribe does sound immature and rather schoolchild type but he is not exactly melodramatic. He is politically immature though. You don’t drive to the governor’s lodge on a rainy day and wake the old bureaucrat up.

It would be fair to assume that given our current crop of mainstream leadership – NC, PDP, Congress – who are chiefly a crooked pile, Omar stands out. And not because he is Farooq Abdullah’s son, but because at heart he is a regular Kashmiri, emotional but upright. Yes he surrounds himself with bootlickers [did you see them falling over each other to stop Omar from leaving the assembly] but I must concede that he is a refreshing break from the past. And his offer to quit may well check mate the wily PDP.

I hope he continues.


[Blogged in a hotel lobby, in real quick time, as I wait for my chap to turn up]