‘We have to see why our senior colleagues were not able to give us numbers’
Expressing shock over the Lok Sabha election results in JK and the complete rout of Congress at the Centre, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Friday accepted the defeat ‘with humility’ stating that fault probably lies with the style of his campaigning as PDP made 2010 killings and hanging of Afzal Guru the corner stone of their campaign. He also said the battle ahead in the form of Assembly elections will be extremely difficult.
“I knew we had a difficult challenge on our hand. But I didn’t expect this much of comprehensive one-sided result today,” a visibly upset Omar said while addressing media men at his Gupkar residence here, soon after the results of South, North and Central Kashmir Lok Sabha constituencies were announced in favour of PDP.
The beleaguered Chief Minister, however, said the election results at the national level will have far reaching implications on National Conference and JK. “We have to analyze what exactly will be the implications of the election results as it is too early to say that. There are important lessons to learn from (the results),” said Omar, flanked by NC leaders Ali Muhammad Sagar and Nasir Aslam Wani.
He said the NC-Congress coalition tried to make the Parliament elections as a national affair which seems to have cost them heavily. “We related our election campaign to national issues only. There were ample positive things vis-à-vis development done by the government in last five-and-a half years. We could have chosen them for the election campaign. And now the results are in front of us,” Omar said.
Hinting that the fault seems to be with the style of campaigning of NC and Congress leaders, Omar said PDP made the 2010 killings and the hanging of Afzal Guru corner stone of their election campaign. “If we compare our election campaign with that of PDP’s, it’s a complete mismatch. As I said, we have to analyze as to whether our campaigning went wrong. If yes, why,” he said. “Next three to four months are going to be very crucial. Though it is not impossible to bounce back but it is extremely difficult.”
To a query what were the important lessons he would learn from the election results, Omar said he was yet to come to terms after the outcome of the elections. “We have to analyze Parliamentary constituency and Assembly constituency-wise results. We have to check as to why our senior colleagues were not able to give us the numbers,” he said. “We have to learn from the defeat. We learnt from the defeat in 2002. The election results are not the end of NC. PDP also lost Lok Sabha elections in 2009. It’s a setback but not the end of NC.”
Reiterating that the new regime at the Centre would have far reaching consequences for India, Omar said it was for the first time after 1984 that a party has made a clean sweep in elections and would be in majority in the Parliament. “I have accepted the verdict with responsibility. I accept the defeat with humility. We will analyze things and take some corrective measures as I have to go to the people for Assembly elections in the coming months again,” he said. “We have to check, was our strategy right or wrong. We will do that in a few days.”
Asked whether he should tender his resignation at his juncture, he said results declared were that of Parliament elections, not Assembly elections. “I am grappling with the question as to whether I should continue or not. Though there is no clear cut answer, I will sit and discuss this with my party and alliance partner,” Omar said. “If my party and alliance partner wants me to fall on the sword to recover from the shock, I will have no hesitation in that.”
On whether NC would change the Chief Ministerial candidate in the upcoming Assembly elections, Omar said he was not a candidate for Chief Minister’s post in 2008 until his party wished so. “I am a loyal soldier of NC. If my party takes a decision on changing the chief ministerial candidate, I will endorse that,” he said. About snapping ties with Congress, he said it was a tough question to answer. “I can’t blame Congress right away when the constituencies represented by my own senior leaders have sprung a surprise.”
The Chief Minister, however, played safe over the issue of cross-voting by Congress voters. “I haven’t analyzed the segment-wise votes polled. I will be doing it in the coming days. But yes, if you look at the style of campaigning of Congress leaders, the part of answer lies there,” he said. Omar rejected the reports that NC has suffered for sidelining the seniors. “If you look at the composition of my Cabinet, there are some people who have started their career during my grandfather’s time. Those whom we sent to Rajya Sabha were in the party since my grandfather’s time. Where comes the question of sidelining seniors.”
Omar felicitated BJP and PDP for their victory and hoped that both the parties would work for the betterment of people keeping in view their aspirations. Replying to a query what if BJP goes ahead to abolish Article 370, Omar said: “For scrapping the Article, you need a constituent assembly, which is not possible as of now. It’s an academic question.”