As CM with 20 portfolios, Omar adrift, govt in limbo

Jul 09 2009, 11:22 IST
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Omar Abdullah, when he took over as CM, raised hopes of giving J&K a 'politically serious and administratively accountable' govt. Omar Abdullah, when he took over as CM, raised hopes of giving J&K a 'politically serious and administratively accountable' govt.
SummarySrinagar erupted again on Wednesday after the the body of a missing youth, Asrar Ahmad Dar, was found with his throat slit.

Srinagar erupted again today after the the body of a missing youth, Asrar Ahmad Dar, was found with his throat slit, sparking angry protests on the streets with securitymen coming under attack and a police vehicle being torched. Officials denied the charge that the youth had been abducted by security forces and said it seemed to be the handiwork of criminals.

Violent protests such as the one witnessed today are becoming more and more frequent, adding to the problems of Omar Abdullah who, when he took over as Chief Minister earlier this year, raised hopes of giving J&K a ďpolitically serious and administratively accountableĒ government. Six months and two major incidents in Shopian and Baramulla later, questions are now being raised about his governmentís efficiency.

The Chief Minister and his deputy declined to comment for this report.

Consider the following:

The 38-year-old Abdullah had promised a Cabinet that would mark a generational shift. But today, there is no young face in the nine-member Cabinet ó he remains the youngest, grappling with as many as 20 portfolios, from Home to Planning, Agriculture to Information Technology, Animal Husbandry to Hajj and Auqaf. Cabinet expansion has been repeatedly put on hold.

The National Conference decision to field Abdullahís uncle Mustafa Kamal in the Hazratbal Assembly by-election did not go down well in sections of the party. For, Kamal was defeated in the Tangmarg constituency and his victory in the May by-election strengthened criticism that the Abdullahs put their family first given that he is all set to join the Cabinet.

Abdullah has continued with the administrative arrangement put in place during Governorís rule although he promised his own team of bureaucrats. Questions were raised when senior officers failed to respond to Union Home Minister P Chidambaramís queries on revenue and development during a recent meeting. The Cabinet expressed displeasure over this embarrassing ignorance but let the matter rest there.

The promise of an open and transparent government remains just that. A much-publicised 24/7 call centre in the CMís office to provide greater public access is still to start. Nor has the promise of a stringent RTI been kept. Abdullahís key political advisor is his friend Davinder Rana, a businessman-turned-politician from Jammu who is in charge of the CMís office. Although the CM has begun hold public interactions at district headquarters, there is no advisor who can be a political

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