Lessons for National Conference

There are many takeaways from the recently held Parliamentary elections. The decimation of family led parties in India has been a common theme of these elections. Be it the DMK in Tamil Nadu, Akali Dal in Punjab or National Conference in Kashmir, all these parties have been handed a crushing defeat. The Akali Dal has at least won a few seats, but NC and DMK have failed to even open their account. Even the Congress Party, which carries the tag of being a party of the Gandhi family recorded its worst performance evr by winning just 44 of the 543 Lok Sabha seats. In a way this election will be remembered for the decimation of dynastic politics in India. Whether this trend will remain or not, only time will tell. But one thing is quite sure, that the Indian voter has come of age and highly despises the politics of entitlement.

At home, National Conference has been defeated in all the Lok Sabha seats that it contested. The Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has taken the responsibility and has asked people to email him the reasons for the parties drubbing. This might look like a sensible move, but it has got serious limitations. Firstly, not many people in Kashmir have access to internet and even those who have will not be able to write a detailed reason for the party’s defeat. Omar Abdullah came to power in 2009 with huge expectations from the people, given that he was projected as a young and dynamic leader. People expected that he would steer the party and the Govt clear of how its senior leaders had done and bring in much needed vigor and accountability in the working of the administration. But all this hype lasted for as long as the media wanted it. After that it was for Omar Abdullah and his Govt to deliver results. But his Govt miserably failed in delivering an efficient and accountable administration.

His Govt was confronted by its biggest challenge in the summer of 2009 and 2010 when mass protests erupted in the valley. In both those years, a few hundred youth, mostly young boys were in clashes between stone pelting crowds and the security forces. The security forces were using excess force to curb this violence and the Omar Abdullah Govt, it seemed was watching helplessly as hundreds of young boys lost their lives. The State Govt was seen to be taking orders from the Central Home Ministry. It was not only that the Omar Govt failed to rise to the occasion regarding this political violence, but it failed to deliver on day to day issues of common people. Power, employment, roads etc, the Sate Govt failed to deliver in almost everything concerning a common man’s life.

Over the years now, it has become very clear that people return those Govts to power which have delivered their promises. Had the Omar Govt also delivered on it’s promises, people would have definitely reposed their faith in their candidates. For Omar Abdullah to really understand what has gone wrong with his Govt, he can not merely depend on asking people to send an email to him detailing the reasons for his party’s loss. A successful political leader has his ground to the ear and is always accessible to people to listen to their concerns and provide solutions. Most of the population in J& K is young which wants employment opportunities. Youth also dislike the politics of entitlement. The Omar Govt has failed to take this youth bulge into account and the results are for everyone to see. In the limited time that Omar Abdullah has in the run up to the assembly elections, he not only has to rejuvenate his party cadre and throw out the dead wood, but also to understand that a successful Govt cannot be run by having a few hundred thousand followers on Twitter.  

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