NATIONAL

NC yet to recover from defeat

JAMMU JAN. 3. The National Conference seems to have not reconciled with the shock it received in the Assembly elections in which it lost power, although it emerged as the single largest party in the 87-member House with 28 members. Barring a statement two days ago, the party has so far failed to register its presence on the State's political horizon.

Following the stunning defeat, the party had promised its cadres that a process of introspection would begin and the causes for the defeat would be identified and remedial measures taken. This clearly indicated overhauling of the party structure to revitalise and strengthen it. Many stories started making the rounds about imminent changes in the hierarchy, including creation of new posts in the party such as vice-president and general secretaries.

The only change, however, was the return of former Chief Minister, Farooq Abdullah, to active politics after he had announced his decision to quit. He took over as the NC patron and was also elected to the Rajya Sabha. This somehow assuaged the party's old guard which was against his son, Omar Abdullah, taking over as the NC president. With the return of Dr. Abdullah, Omar was again sidelined, more so because of his own defeat in Ganderbal. The party's performance in the brief Assembly session was also not up to the mark as the members were still in the process of reconciling themselves to sitting in the Opposition. They have so far failed in identifying the "failures'' of the Mufti Government, if any.

The NC leadership, most of whom are former Ministers, have not chosen to go back to the people except for the odd public meeting in Handwara and Bhaderwah addressed by Mr. Abdullah. A middle rung leader admitted that there was confusion in the party. "I can say it is in total disarray and there is no coordination,'' he told The Hindu. On the birth anniversary of the party's founder, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, the NC could again not put up an impressive show and most of the former Ministers were absent from the Mazar of the late Abdullah. Except for a statement in response to the powers given to the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Council, liaison with the media is non-existent.

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