Many invisible hands were commanding the government.
Omar Abdullah led coalition government completed three years on 5th of January this year and can be recognized as average exercise of authority. Apparently, a lawful government was in place and many initiatives for excellent governance were initiated with fair degree of success on many fronts. However, peace almost eluded first two years with numerous deep scars of violence and violations. By and large the third year can be termed as peaceful, but several political blunders and abrasions inflicted on the Kashmiri psyche cannot be ignored altogether. The three year tenure as a whole was blend of good and bad management, efficient and unproductive administration and can be summed up as ineffective procedure of ‘over-governance’. Over- governance in the sense, that many veiled hands were commanding the government.
In January 2009 the coalition started on a good note with young, energetic, enthusiastic Omar Abdullah as its leader; a leader apparently with clean political and personal canvas with fine margins of honesty and sincerity. On the outset his contemporaries and opponents branded him a ‘political virgin’ but many a time he left them guessing. Many personal and political whirlpools confronted him, where at occasions sailing was not only difficult but impossible. People had many expectations with his energy and personal appeal. But with the passage of days, weeks and months the traditional cartels of opportunists equipped with weapons of sycophancy and flattery surrounded the young leader for their own ulterior motives. His political and personal opponents opened many fronts to corner him and many times he went almost straight into the trap.
Unabated violence and killings unnerved the administration within few months of smooth sailing and thus for almost complete two seasons Omar Abdullah could not locate the threads of peace and smooth governance. All this violence took toll of his administrative capabilities and had an effect on his much hyped charisma and fairer phenotype; turning him greyer with every passing day. Violence and ensuing violations engulfed whole Kashmir and in this situation of dilemma and hostility, panic gripped the entire administrative apparatus and leadership from Srinagar to Delhi. Thus, various power centers were created to quell the uprising and many strategies were devised; ranging from impromptu acts by local administration to anxious interventions from several central establishments. The scenario turned gloomier in Kashmir and was getting conflicting administrative doses from different power centers. Thus, the syndrome of ‘over-governance’ gripped the whole state and till date we are severely under this influence of heterogeneity in governance.
Another major constraint with the administration was total dearth of public relations at early stages and leadership being completely deficient in proper political mastery. Entire system of government was relying on imperfect feedback laden with animosity and motives harbored both within and outside the ruling political apparatus. Earlier very few leaders within the main ruling party could reconcile with their new leader and it surely had an effect on the administrative capability of the government. Two full years were washed-out and hundreds of lives consumed to get feel of the situation and set a chord with the people. By the time organization and its leadership was back on rails the system had turned susceptible to all sort of pulls and pressures. Undoubtedly, political masters and saviors bailed out the government and its leadership from reoccurring awkward situations from time to time. But, these bail-outs were always at a cost—a much higher cost. As majority of political observers opine that personal rapport of two young leaders in Kashmir and Delhi was the major reason of timely salvaging. But in fact a clandestine political process was set rolling were many were tamed, many more re-established and others marginalized.
These three years of governance were unique in many ways. Political landscape of state got redesigned where a preferred political triangle amid mainstream parties has been implanted deep into the political system of Jammu and Kashmir with far-reaching political ramifications. A new political dispensation and leadership with complete immunity and patronage evolved out of nowhere turning the balance of power wavering with its strings firmly held somewhere else, far away from its real custodians. With all these developments during last three years, the regional political character of the state has turned murkier with several kingmakers and many power centers.