Even in his eighth decade, Farooq Abdullah still the only charismatic J&K politician
Farooq Abdullah (86) is the senior most politician in Jammu and Kashmir at present.
Srinagar, (IANS) Farooq Abdullah (86) is the senior most politician in Jammu and Kashmir at present.
He has been the Chief Minister of the state thrice. Known for his flamboyant exterior, Farooq Abdullah is a politician the like of whom J&K has not seen in the past.
Behind the merry-making, easy-going image is a shrewd politician who knows when it is time to shift from one end of the field to the other.
Even his worst political adversaries respect him for his capacity to make friends and disarm enemies.
Farooq Abdullah is often blamed for being unpredictable and that perhaps is his best political asset.
His unpredictable nature goes well with his style of functioning. During his first tenure as the Chief Minister, he was seen riding a motorcycle with a famous Bollywood actress on the pillion.
He stopped while on way to his office to help an old cart-puller negotiate the load he was pulling.
One of his remarkable characteristics is that however loud he might shout at anyone, he does not harbour a grudge for long.
He is not vengeful and he is easily moved to tears if he sees misery and pain.
Farooq Abdullah is often blamed for his proverbial restlessness, and those who have been associated with him will tell you that this has often adversely affected his functioning as the Chief Minister.
Golf, singing, wearing good clothes and to be in the company of beautiful women have almost been a compulsion for him.
He would fly to places outside J&K to play golf, watch concerts, cricket matches and attend high profile parties even when he should have been discharging his official duties in J&K.
During his last tenure as the Chief Minister, he virtually handed over governance to his two most trusted bureaucrats, Chief Secretary Ashok Jaitly and his Principal Secretary B.R. Singh.
Whenever he came under party pressure to do something that he thought was beyond his capacity, he would refer the matters to 'Tony', as Ashok Jaitly was fondly called by his friends and family.
He is well-known to forget promises he makes in public and private. That perhaps is the unavoidable part of his couldn't care-less nature.
One thing that is remarkable about the wily old politician is that he has never been confronted by any party colleague or a minister during his tenure as the National Conference President or as the Chief Minister.
His senior colleagues in the party and the governments that he headed in the past have never had the courage to speak one-on-one to him.
"He would brush the opposition aside like one sweeps dust in a room. His overbearing personality and unpredictable nature always keep his colleagues on guard. You could never predict his next move," said one of his senior party colleagues and a former minister.
One might blame him for anything, but there is no doubt that he is thoroughly secular.
Since 1982, when his father Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah passed away, Farooq Abdullah has been the boss of his party, the National Conference.
In all these years, the party has not been able to produce his successor.
His son and former Chief Minster Omar Abdullah continues to be known as the 'Son of the Boss' in the party.
Those who know both father and the son agree that Omar Abdullah stands miles apart in his attitude and style of functioning from his father.
Omar Abdullah is a more private person than the outgoing, extrovert that his father has always been.
Even when he is already well past the major part of his life, the National Conference is completely dependent on Farooq Abdullah as its only charismatic leader.
He once told a senior colleague, "You cannot remain in power in J&K if you rub Delhi the wrong way. My father learnt that the hard way."
He has been vehemently opposing the present dispensation at the Centre. Yet he speaks differently at different times.
Just the other day, he said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should use his stature as an international leader to stop the Russia-Ukraine war.
He has decided to relinquish the presidentship of his party, but asserted that he would stand in the forthcoming Assembly elections.
He also heads the Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), a conglomerate of political parties that stands for restoration of J&K's special status.
Apparently, Farooq Abdullah seems to have burnt all bridges to strike any future alliance with the BJP.
Opposing the right wing political party has become his most important political card of late.
Would he ever negotiate a political deal with the BJP if the forthcoming Assembly elections throw up a fractured mandate?
Well, given his nature and the capacity to negotiate difficult political deals to remain in power, he most probably would.
News BY IANS (Indo-Asian News Service)
This article has been republished with permission from IANS. The views expressed in the article are that of the author and not of the publisher or its management.