Other States

After release, all eyes are on Farooq Abdullah’s next move

The release of five-time J&K chief minister and National Conference (NC) president Dr. Farooq Abdullah on Friday will stir the stagnant political waters in J&K, with both New Delhi and the regional parties waiting in wariness about his next political move.

For the Centre, the difficult decision to release him will ease the international pressure, especially from the U.S., to release the democratically elected leadership of J&K held post August 5. Slapping the controversial and stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) for the third time on Dr. Abdullah would not have augured well within the political opposition of the country too.

Notwithstanding senior BJP leader and Union Minister Jitendra Singh's frequent public remarks on prolonging the detention of Kashmir-based leadership, especially Dr. Abdullah, the timing of the release starkly reflects the pressure on the Centre.

The political ecosystem of J&K in fact has been in a suspended mode since August 5, when the entire political class, from the regional leaders to separatist Hurriyat, Jamaat-e-Islami and JKLF, were rendered irrelevant by the unprecedented clampdown.

Also read: Omar Abdullah used politics to cover his radical ideology: Public Safety Act dossier

With all political groups holding their cards close to the chest, all eyes will be on Dr. Abdullah's moves now, after the seven month haitus.

“It will be interesting to watch his next steps. Will he raise the issue of Article 370 or will he be quiet about it? Remember Dr. Abdullah was the political leader who put forth the theory that to survive in politics, it is important to be on the right side of the Central government, irrespective of the fact as to who is there in power in the Centre. This Farooq doctrine was recently reiterated by the Altaf Bukhari, who floated the Apni Party,” said Prof. Rekha Chowdhary, former head of department, Political Science at Jammu University.

However, Dr Chodhary warned against taking Dr. Abdullah lightly. “The strength of Dr. Abdullah is the cadre of NC, which remained intact in some form, despite the prevalence of militancy and separatism,” she added.

Also read: 389 people in detention in J&K under Public Safety Act: Centre

His release is likely to dent the prospects of Mr. Bukhari's Apni Party, which has many ideology-less individuals joining hands for pure power politics. In fact, they needed time to have grip on the ground and float new narratives, which was only possible in absence of the traditional political leadership.

“With the Apni Party being floated on the one hand and the Farooq Abdullah being released on the other, it will be important to watch the developments. Apni Party has individuals with pro-Centre inclinations, but the NC has the cadre. But does NC have the pro-Centre inclinations?” asked Dr. Chowdhary.

For now, Dr. Abdullah has made his politics clear. His stress that he will not comment on political matters till all leaders are released only pointed at the Gupkar Declaration, which opposed any dilution of J&K’s special status.

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Printable version | Mar 6, 2021 11:37:15 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/after-release-all-eyes-are-on-farooq-abdullahs-next-move/article31062876.ece

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